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David Manner 




New y^-W-W-NORTON & CO-INC- Publishers 


for 'whom this book 
'was 'written 









7. THE M. M. P. U. 1883 50 

8. ROAD WORK 55 











2 1 . MY FIRST STRIKE 1 1 J 





27. I PROPOSE 141 

28. I MARRY 144 

29. I WORRY 149 



33. A SON IS BORN 173 







IS BORN 187 









44. BIG JIM EUROPE 2 1 ^ 




MENT 230 











56. CREDO 267 


DAVID MANNES Frontispiece 

DAVID MANNES, AGED FIVE facing page 32 










"How old are you?" 

"Nine. How old are you?" 

"Nine and a half." 

The formula had begun. Faithfully following it, I spoke 

"What does your father do?" 

"My father's a banker." There was a world of satisfaction 
in her voice. With assumed nonchalance she flicked her hoop 
with a stick and ran after it a little way. Then stopped, 
turned back, and without looking at measked: "What's 
your father?" 

"He's a musician" 

"Oh" She turned again, banged the hoop downhill and 
ran after it, her long curls bobbing. 

I was left standing in a void of dissatisfaction. Anticlimax 
hung in the air like an unresolved chord. Not that I was not 
proud of my father's work: the honor and excitement of 
music-making were long since clear to me, and I was free 
of that natural awe for money which lies in most children. 
Nor was it her contempt and indifference that worried me 

The trouble was, "musician" was not enough. I imagined 
the dialogue resumed: 


Music Is My Faith 

"Is he famouslike Paderewski?" 

"Well-not exactly-" 

"Does he make a lot of money?" 

"No not very much." 

How could I tell her? How could I say that Father was 
more than a musician, that the word was not enough? It 
was impossible. I could not make a story out of Father. 
There were no headlines. There were no labels. There were 
no sensations. 

I have said that David Mannes cannot be labeled. The only 
proof of this is to test the many labels that have been affixed 
to him. Take this first and most obvious one: musician. He 
is not a composer, for he does not write music. He is not a 
virtuoso because, although he has appeared with distinction 
as a violinist on concert stages here and abroad, he has neither 
the egotism, the nervous intensity nor the co-ordinative 
brilliance necessary to a soloist. For twenty years he has 
conducted, with recognized musicianship and command, 
much of the best orchestral music that has been heard in 
New York; and yet a total lack of histrionics and a more 
tangible lack of a permanent orchestra have prevented him 
from being known primarily as a conductor. 

For thirty years he taught the violin, and for twenty has 
been, together with his wife, the director of a successful 
music school. And yet the word "teacher" does not fit him. 
Having no system of pedagogy, he is no pedagogue. The 



words "educator" and "institution" fill him with horror. 

No less do the words "humanitarian" and "uplifter" two 
other labels. And yet he would be the last to deny that music 
with him was never a personal end but always a means 
towards imparting a certain light, a certain truth and passion 
and faith to the hearts of the people. This he has done in 
very actual ways: in the founding of the first music school 
settlements; in the bringing of musical education to Negroes; 
in the giving of countless hours of help and advice to the 
poor and talented, to the rich and oppressed, to the lost and 
bewildered of all classes and ages; and in the conducting of 
those free concerts which have brought the poor in thou- 
sands to the Metropolitan Museum of Art eight nights a 

He has even and to his utmost distress been called a 
saint, so evident is the graciousness of his spirit, the gentleness 
and purity of his personal emanation. Yet, although his life 
has shown him to be incorruptible, and totally free from 
arrogance or guile or meanness or greed, he is not a saint. 
His spirit has had its large share of torture, but he has not 
mortified his flesh. Although he has been poor himself, he 
does not extol poverty. As for chastity, though scandal and 
intrigues have gained no footing in his life, he does not con- 
demn the unchaste. And he performs no miracles; unless, 
after you have read his story, you find his growth into wis- 
dom a miracle. And yet the rise of a poor boy into eminence 
is too familiar a tale to be a miracle; particularly if that 
eminence is so hard to classify, so elusive of definition, as his. 


Music Is My Faith 

"So what?" you saywith perfect reason. Why should 
we hear the story of this particular man? If it is not the 
story of a great musician or a great teacher, or a great organ- 
izer, why should it be told? 

I shall answer this: because it is the story of an intensely 
human being whose entire life is a study in faith. A man 
whose wisdoma wisdom gained from a profound doubt 
in self has influenced innumerable people and changed the 
lives of dozens. A man who, belonging to no club, no creed, 
no party and no faction, is more genuinely and widely loved 
than many with greater talents and greater power. A man, as 
much because of his failings as because of his virtues, of 
unique and memorable charm. 

I shall say also this: that the time will come when a great 
number of people, numbed by the thousand-times reiterated 
screams in print, will no longer be excited by murder or by 
speed or by acts of lust or by the aberrations of the insane. 
Violence will annihilate itself, and high black letters will 
blur and jumble before exhausted eyes. To these people there 
will come a new order of sensations. Humility patience- 
incorruptibility these, for their very rareness, will be head- 
line material. And at that time, the story of a man who, in 
a world that has forgotten Christ, remains a Christian that 
too will be a sensational story. 

Until then, take his chronicle as you will: as a moving 
tale of struggle and achievement; as a fresh and intimate 
picture of the early musical life of New York City; as the 
revealing of a father to his children (which was the initial 



reason for its telling) ; as any human story by which other 
humans can measure themselves. 

There has been a fad in contemporary literature of not 
describing the appearances of characters. This seems as fool- 
ish as the omission of dialogue. For surely you cannot dis- 
associate a man from his face; or his words from his voice. 
Expression and intonation give meaning to speech. And the 
shape of a man's nose can alter the course of his life. 

Certainly, the appearance of David Mannes is as notable 
as his personality, and plays no little part in this chronicle 
of his development. In his youth, his lean long figure, rugged 
features and thick black hair led many to believe he had 
American-Indian blood. Later, when his hair turned gray 
and William Gillette played Conan Doyle's famous sleuth 
on Broadway, elevator boys and parlor maids took him for 
Sherlock Holmes. Now, white-haired, more deeply grooved, 
and thin as ever, he passes either as an Englishman or as the 
American he profoundly feels himself to be. 

There are other things you notice when you see him first: 
the jutting gray tangle of his eyebrows; the asymmetry of 
his face, one side harrowed, the other serene; the twist of his 
mouth; the elegance of his walk. Other idiosyncrasies that 
characterize him are his passion for dogs, dancing, frank- 
furters, soaps, the English race, and movies, good and bad; 
his inability to look squarely into a mirror (he has never 
cared for his face) ; and his intense distaste for carrying more 


Mtisic Is My Faith 

than a dollar on his person (he dislikes actual money and 
any transactions connected with it a feeling not uninflu- 
enced by his horror of mathematical calculation) . 

The rest of David Marines should reveal itself in his own 

As the reader will notice, I have spurred my father's 
memory by interjecting questions and comments at certain 
intervals of his narrative which, as I have said, was originally 
written for us children. We, therefore, are the "you" to 
whom he speaks continually in this book. And although 
the audience is now a different and larger one, this first ap- 
proach has a directness and simplicity which it seemed un- 
wise to change. 





NJLANNES where does that 

name come pom? Who are they? There are Manes in Spain, 
and Manets in France, Manneses in Norway and Mannes- 
man* in Germany. They may all at one time have sprung 
from the same root, but 'who knows? There is no Burke, no 
Debrett for obscure wanderers. And wanderers the Man- 
neses surely were, being of Jewish blood. But the subter- 
ranean river of their march breaks into light in a small 
Polish village. And with it emerges Simon Marines, the 
grandfather of my father. 

He was a journeyman-baker, Simon Mannes who 
tramped all over German Poland and Prussia, baking as he 
went. (A nice clean craft I always loved the smell of fresh 
baking.) He was naturally then a man of roving habits, sel- 
dom at his home in Poland, something of a philosopher they 
say, and quite progressive. At any rate, he had plenty of time 
walking on the low, flat plains between the villagesunder 
those wide and melancholy skies to contemplate as much 


Music Is My Faith 

as he chose. Once in the villages, though, he was as convivial 
as you please, and very popular. He was born of an orthodox 
Jewish family, but as he grew older he acquired as many de- 
voted friends among Christians as among those of his own 
race. I think this is a proof of his intelligence, for only the 
limited Jews want to wall themselves up with their own 
kind. That clannishness a sort of aggressive defiance has 
never done them any good. % 

Simon was very tall and very thin Father said I looked 
just like him and he married my grandmother quite early. 
Her name, the only one I remember, was Mirelle. They had 
two children: my father, Henry, born at Povidz in 1 83 3, and 
his sister Rose, who married a rabbi, cantor of the Synagogue 
in Wriezen, a little village on the Oder about fifty kilometers 
from Berlin. 

You knew my father he was of medium height, rather 
stocky, and wore a beard and mustache; and I remember 
his telling us with great pride that it was said he looked like 
General Grant. He was always punctilious in dress, far be- 
yond the men of his class. 

He was fairly well educated, wrote a fine hand, and had a 
small talent in drawing; but of what use was that in feeding 
seven chi!4ren? Even so, I think if he had had any chance at 
all to develop such a talent, however slight, he would have 
been a happier man. 

Schiller was his great poet, and one of my very early mem- 
ories of him, when he was not reading the daily paper, was 
seeing him poring over a large book, which I subsequently 


The People 1 Come From 

discovered to be the complete works of that most German of 
German writers. 

I know very little about my maternal grandparents except 
that they lived to a very old age. It seems to be a family trait! 
My mother's father died in Berlin at the age of 104. At his 
hundredth birthday he received a message of congratulation 
from Kaiser Wilhelm I. My mother's family name was Witt- 
kowsky, and she was born in 1831, in Wittkowo, German 
Poland. Her name was Nathalia. She was small, had a charm- 
ing figure and regular pretty features, all of which she main- 
tained until she died at the age of eighty-four. 

My mother had three brothers, the outstanding one be- 
'ing Simon Wittkowsky. He received an excellent education, 
served in the army, and was decorated for gallantry in action. 
Later in life he became an interior decorator and founded 
a fine business in antiques of rare value, which developed 
into one of the principal houses in Berlin. These collections 
were housed in a beautiful building of their own on the 
Markgraf en Platz. After the Franco-Prussian war my uncle 
received the commission from Kaiser Wilhelm I to decorate 
and furnish the royal castle at Strasburg. 

Simon Wittkowsky had three sons, Carl, George and 
Paul. Carl had married great wealth, and devoted himself 
to literary work. He wrote the libretto of Moszkowski's 
opera Eoabdil. George became a doctor of medicine, Paul 
a lawyer. Maximilian Harden, the famous German pamphlet- 
eer, political critic and litterateur, was also a Wittkowsky 
from German Poland; and, I am told, a first cousin of mine. 


Music Is My Faith 

My mother received practically no education, for her 
mother died during her formative years; and Nathalia, as 
the only girl in the family, had to keep house for her father 
and brothers, instead of going to school. Later on this fact 
became the constant sorrow of her life. How often she said 
to me that she wanted to be born again only that she might 
go to school and learn how to read and write! I often asked 
Father why he didn't teach her to read and write. He told 
me that she had too much pride to show him her ignorance, 
and would always refuse any correction that he might offer. 

I taught her to sign her name and to read a little, but it 
was too late. Organized and trained mental co-ordination 
was lacking. Instead, she was a keen observer, hot-tempered, 
often very witty; a dear and warm friend to all, her smile 
captivating and her good sense proverbial. She was very 
romantic; a hero-worshiper as far as actors, poets and states- 
men were concerned, and possessed of an elementary love 
of music so strong that she was deeply moved at hearing 
good music. I shall never forget my mother's excitement in 
passing before the house of Dr. Leopold Damrosch, whom 
she had seen from the gallery of the Metropolitan Opera 
House conducting Die Walkure. (Worshiping him as she 
did, it was no small miracle to her that she lived to see me 
married to Dr. Damrosch's daughter, Clara.) Father took 
her to concerts, the opera and the theatre; or, when their 
work was done and the children put to bed, read to her. 



JVJL Y MOTHER and father were 

married in Berlin, and my eldest brother was born there; 
but before he was two years old, in 1860, the family of 
three embarked at Hamburg on a sailing vessel bound for 
New York, and after a tempestuous voyage of forty-one 
days they reached America. Here the other six children 
were born, the youngest a girl, the others boys. 

Father, who followed his father's trade, and had served 
his apprenticeship as a baker in Germany, was fortunate 
in securing employment at the original PurceU's bakery on 
Broadway and Thirty-first Street. He kept his position for 
some time, during which he studied English, mainly through 
reading the New York Herald, to which he subscribed and 
which he read for the rest of his life. 

All the bakers at that time had their ovens in the cellar, 
and as the work-day was then more than a twelve-hour 
shift with no possibility of sunlight for the workers, my 
father became ill and decided that he must give up his 
calling and undertake a business which would give him his 


Music Is My Faith 

own responsibility and his own independence. With the 
help of his cousin, Henry Davis, he opened a small clothing 
shop at 302 Seventh Avenue, the family living over the shop. 
It was an old, rather tumbledown frame building, compris- 
ing two building lots. Here I was born, the fifth child; but 
I numbered among the children the third, for two of them 
were poisoned and died as the result of an impure vaccine 
in the inoculation against smallpox. After that my mother 
naturally refused to have any of her children vaccinated. 
The health laws in those days were not as strictly enforced, 
and it happened that my next brother, Owen, then became 
frightfully ill of smallpox. My mother, frantic with fear, 
threatened the doctor with death if he reported the case to 
the Board of Health, and he incredible as it may seem 
kept silence and finally brought my brother safely through 
with little sign of the ravage of the disease. I can only imagine 
that Dr. Teller must have been a devoted friend of Mother's, 
or else he could not have disobeyed the very necessary pre- 
caution of the health authorities. 

Whether I was naturally of a supersensitive and nervous 
organism, or whether I became so through an accident early 
in life, I cannot tell; but my sensitivity, not alone to sight 
and sound but to every small detail of my environment, 
grew to an extraordinary degree. This accident shaped and 
altered the course of my life, influenced the thought and 
action of the future years. From this time my conscious life 
and memory dates. 


Boyhood in the Tenderloin 

That picture of you in the velvet suit was before the 
accident, wasn't it, Father? You looked so plump and sleek 
and unimaginative not at all like yourself. You might almost 
have been a rather ordinary little boy, a bit too complacent 
about your Sunday clothes and your fine shoes. 

When I was five years of age there were five boys, the 
youngest of whom had just had his first birthday. In teach- 
ing him to walk, holding his hand and moving backward I 
fell into a boiler of steaming linen which Mother had only 
just taken off the stove. My shrieks brought the rest of the 
family, but not until I had become literally parboiled. The 
doctor was called and held out but scant hope of my re- 
covery. I was severely scalded from my shoulder blades to 
the base of my spine, and completely across the back. It is 
needless to say that I suffered agonies. The mustard plasters 
they put on the open sores did not help much. In the long 
convalescence I was unable to sit or walk, and in lying, lay 
on my stomach for years afterwards. I bear the scars, white 
and raised, to this day. You know how conscious of them I 
still am and how terrified of the curious gaze at my back 
when I go in bathing. 

I remember, after being confined to the house for months, 
being pushed about the streets ignominiously in a baby 
carriage by my father; and many details of the doctor's 
visits and the pain these visits entailed in the daily treatment 
of my wounds. But such suffering does not last forever. 


Music Is My Faith 

When I became stronger I spent the summers in Cobles- 
kill, New York, at the home of my father's cousin, a pen- 
sioned soldier of the Civil War. He had married the daughter 
of a Lutheran dominie, and at the dominie's farm I also spent 
weeks every summer. I loved the life, and my boy com- 
panions, and the smell of the country. 

I learnt at the farm to fish and to swim, in haying rime I 
was in the fields all day, and while I was unable to do much, 
everything interested me: the care and milking of the cows, 
the birth of calves and pigs, the life of all the farm animals. 

So ihafs 'when the seed 'was sown! How often have we 
beard you say: 

"/ want a farm some day, children. 1 want a place with 
horses and lots of dogs, and a barn where I can putter and 
make things out of wood" 

Farm machinery attracted me very much, and I studied 
and finally understood the working of the parts of mowers, 
threshers, etc., which had only been invented shortly before. 
These summers spent in the lovely Schoharie and Otsego 
counties were heaven to me, principally as they meant the 
only escape from the frightful sordidness and squalor of the 
neighborhood in which we lived in the city. 

You see, I was born practically in the center of that in- 
famous and notorious district, known in the seventies and 
eighties as the Tenderloin. Twenty-seventh Street from 
Sixth to Seventh Avenues was entirely given over to houses 
of prostitution. On three out of the four corners of every 


Boyhood in the Tenderloin 

street were saloonsthe kind with swing-doors and sawdust 
and the smell of liquor and sweat coming out of them and 
the number of drunken bums lying about was such a natural 
thing that one took it as a matter of course. You just stepped 
around or over them. Police raids and evictions of our 
neighbors were frequent; and I remember these scantily- 
clad, disheveled women being herded and driven off in 
police wagons, yelling and crying and struggling against the 
policemen. Fights between street gangs were almost a 
nightly experience and we used to keep indoors in terror of 
our lives. I suppose to some that surrounding evil might 
have held a romantic lure. But not to me. Not then or ever. 
I hate mess and confusion and squalor. It frightens me as a 
mob frightens me and leaves profound depression in its 

The school I went to at that time was no bulwark either 
against that depression or the squalor that caused it. Nor was 
it in any sense of the word an education. I am often ashamed 
of my meager vocabulary and of my floundering method 
of expression; more so than ever when I come into contact 
with trained minds. The fact is, I had only four years of 
schooling in my entire life. And what schooling! 

Public School 55 (at Twentieth Street and Sixth Avenue) 
was the background of miserable boyhood months. The 
hard benches, the crowded rooms, the fetid atmosphere, the 
spitting boys and tired, irritable teachers these were no 
incentive to learning. The filth was indescribable (there was 
no plumbing whatsoever), and the heat and litter of the 


Music Is My Faith 

crowded basement yard at recess-time made even that small 
oasis sordid. The end of the school day left me spent and 

I was happy only at my mother's side, and took delight 
in helping her in her household duties: peeling potatoes, 
making beds, hanging those stiff "lace" curtains, and even 
ironing the simple pieces of laundry. My brothers made fun 
of me on account of these rather feminine activities. I did, 
however, learn how to use tools and make minor repairs in 
our home which always looked sweet and clean. 

As a matter of fact, I was something of a pioneer in the 
family circle. I introduced the first toothbrush, and more 
revolutionary even than thatsuggested the change from 
day-shirt into a night-shirt for sleeping purposes. Hereto- 
fore, one shirt had served adequately (so they thought) for 
the entire twenty-four hours. 

At school I was not a brilliant student, for I was interested 
only in history and physiology. I was made unhappy by the 
simplest mathematical problem and when I did happen to 
pass examinations, I forgot completely, shortly afterwards, 
everything I had learnt through pressure. Understanding 
had to come to me through other agencies, never through 
conscious pursuit. I did, however, skip a class or two during 
my short school life. I don't think I deserved such rapid 
promotion; it was due rather to the need of making room 
in the overfilled classes of the lowest grades, each room of 
which held fifty to sixty boys at a time. 

About this time my father gave up his clothing business 


Boyhood in the Tenderloin 

and moved to a building next door to No. 302, where he 
began to build up a furniture shop with special attention to 
antiques one of the first shops of this kind in the city. He 
bought and sold many unique and precious pieces of old 
china and old books. These books attracted me, and I read, 
and somehow became absorbed in, many an old volume that 
I couldn't completely grasp. One of these was Renan's Life 
of Christ^ in English of course; many were old Bibles. Until 
that time in Sunday School and during the Jewish holidays, 
my only Bible history was the Old Testament, for which 
I felt no interest. I even fought against further knowledge 
of it. 

So it was the New Testament which I read and read, and 
my love and enthusiasm for its central figure grew and grew. 
This experience was another profound impression, perhaps 
the most important of my entire life, and certainly the most 

3 1 



JL DON'T know what started 

me on music. How do those things start? Some impulse. 
There wasn't any outside urge. I simply began to be curious 
about sounds about their pitch and quality. And one day 
I tried stretching ordinary strings at various tensions, and 
stopping them with my fingers to secure different tones. Till 
then I had only heard street fiddlers and those poor hacks 
who played on ferry and excursion boats to Coney Island, 
where we had gone to picnic several times. But these experi- 
ences gave me the idea of making a "fiddle" out of a cigar 
box, with a piece of wood for the neck and a peg to stretch 
one string upon. This fiddle of mine brought my parents to 
a great decision. I should become a violinist. They had ac- 
cepted the fact that since my accident I was too frail of body 
to be strong enough for ordinary labor. What they did not 
know was that they had settled, involuntarily, upon a calling 
which demanded of all things physical vitality and enormous 
labor, and more nervous tension than my injured body and 


David Maimei, Aged Five 

Little David, Play on Your Fiddle 


temperament could stand. Then, besides, there was the cost 
of tuition to fit me for a musician, a serious outlay which they 
could not really afford. However, I was so enthusiastic over 
the plan that I gathered here and there old bottles, rags and 
bits of lead pipe, which I sold to the neighboring junk-man; 
and this helped to pay for a violin, case and bow, which cost 
five or six dollars. 

My first teacher wjas Herrman Brady,, the leader, of the 
orchestra of Wallack's Theatre at Thirteenth Street and 
Broadway, friend and countryman of my father's, and he 
received seventy-five cents for the weekly lesson. He often 
dozeHTnd nodded during these hours, being tired and worn 
out from running a tea and coffee business in the daytime 
and playing at the theatre at night. Hg^brokfcdown in health, 
had to give up his tea business and his pupils. He recom- 
mended as his substitute the second violin in his orchestra, 
orie Theodore Moses, a young man from Hamburg, an 
excellent musician, and to me a far more attractive player 
than Brody . I went for my lessons to his house on Sixth Street 
between Second and Third Avenues, where he lived with 
his father and mother, neither of whom could speak English. 
He seemed interested and very keen on my progress and I 
was happy to Be VltFHifn, making rapid strides in my play- 
ing. Unfortunately, after two years, in which time there 
were interruptions due to the expense of the lessons, Mr. 
Moses and my father had a serious misunderstanding, and my 
teacher felt so hurt that he refused to teach me again. 

I was then sent to the New York College of Music on East 


Music Is My Faith 

Seventieth Street, and studied jmliiLwithLGcorgeJUatska, a 
violin player in the Philharmonic Orchestra. Rafael Joseffy, 
the famous pianist, was the star member of the faculty. The 
College of Music was a private school and was directed by a 
Mr. Alexander, also of the Philharmonic. There I met a very 
attractive bmr who was studying with Matska. We became 
frieii3s"and met very often at each other's houses, playing 
duets for two violins. His name was Fritz Williamsthe boy 
actor "who had already appeared in several plays produced 
by his father. His family^ were all stage folkj his mother 
then, and later his very attractive sister. These lessons with 
Matska and a place in the harmony class cost my father sixty 
dollars a quarter, and one season at the College was all that 
we* could afford. 

Then came dressed in the clothing of a very nice sheep 
my first disillusion. One day at school cards were handed 
to the boys on leaving the building, saying that free violin 
lessons would be given pupils of School Number 55, if they 
would come on the following Saturday morning to the 
Masonic Rooms on the top floor of a building on the corner 
of Eighth Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street. "Professor" 
Benjamin was to be the teacher and musical philanthropist. 
About one hundred of us showed up punctually at the time 
and place, and I was amazed to see so many of those rough- 
neck boys, whose pugnacity I had always feared. 

When we were all seated, "Professor" Benjamin said that 
while the lessons were free, those boys who had no violins 
would buy them on the installment plan. The instruments, 


Little David, Play on Your Fiddle 

however, must remain in his possession until the payments 
were completed. Furthermore, all students must buy their 
own book of instruction if they wished to study with him. 
I bought such a book. I had, of course, my violin, but only 
attended two lessons. By that time the sordid deception of 
the whole business had seeped even into my unworldly head. 
"Professor" Benjamin was my first phony. I suppose I ought 
to be grateful to him for that indirect lesson! 

After that, I had to go on as best I could, learning much 
through the duet-playing with Fritz Williams, and through 
a fortunate circumstance that brought a lovely woman and 
a gifted pianist into my life Charlotte Hazard, born in 
Dublin. She had studied on the Continent and had run away 
from a distinguished family and beautiful home to marry an 
English army officer. 

For some time we had been anxious to move away from 
our horribly squalid environment, but we could only meet 
the increased rental of a better neighborhood by leasing 
furnished rooms. We rented a house at 2 1 5 West 2jth Street, 
and here the Hazards came, bringing Mrs. Hazard's sister, 
to occupy two rooms. In these two rooms they slept and 
cooked their meals and set up their new Kroeger piano. Mrs. 
Hazard was a highly cultivated woman, speaking not only 
beautiful English new and fascinating to my unaccustomed 
ears but French and German also. For the first time I really 
knew what music was. I was almost continually in the 
Hazard rooms, listening to and ravished by my first hearings 
of "Mozart, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. She was so lovely, 


Music Is My Faith 

Charlotte Hazard! so handsome and gay and witty. And I 
ow^so much to her. I played to her accompaniment every 
day, new and marvelous music, not with much understand- 
ing, I am afraid, and with meager technical ability. But some- 
how Mrs. Hazard made me believe that I had talent; that is, 
at certain times onlyfor I was mostly of an opinion that as 
a musician I would never amount to anything. This lack of 
hopfc accounts in a measure for my deep and desperate de- 
pressions, and for the continual lassitude I lived in a weari- 
ness that passed away only when I heard her playing and 
When she praised and approved of my fiddling. Then I would 
work harder than ever. 



.FATHER sees a small black 

boy shuffling in the street; a pickaninny with enormous eyes 
and a sectional 'woolly scalp; a Negro porter flashing a wide, 
white smile. "God, I love those people!" When he goes to 
the great colored Fiske University in Tennessee, of which 
he is a trustee, he comes back with a light in his eye. "How I 
like those people! Pm always happy when I'm with them. 
I never get tired of hearing them sing, talk, play. I love their 
voices and their warmth and their childlikeness. And 
they're such magnificent natural musicians; none of those 
pinched and constipated sounds that come out of overtrained 
white throats." 

"/ suppose my deep affection for Negroes really started 
with John Douglas" 

"John Douglas? Who was John Douglas, Father?" 

One morning when I was practicing in the basement of 
our house, the doorbell jangled in our areaway. Mother 
opened the door to a rather fine-looking Negro, well-dressed, 


Music Is My Faith 

short and stout, wearing a mustache and goatee a la Napoleon 
III. He asked my mother, most deferentially, who was play- 
ing the violin. Mother answered "My son." Noticing my 
mother's broken English, he then proceeded to speak in 
good and fluent German, saying that his name was John 
Douglas, and that he was a violinist. Could he see me? He was 
shown in and asked me to play for him. After that he played 
for me on my small violin with such ability that I was amazed 
at his performance. 

We became good friends and he taught me many im- 
portant things in violin playing. He was a dear, gentle com- 
panion in many a walk and talk. Born of a slave mother, who, 
after the war, left the South for Philadelphia, he had from 
childhood shown a decided musical talent and very early 
had received some instruction. Some white people, evidently 
his mother's employers, became much interested in the boy 
and finally sent him abroad to study with Rapoldi in Dres- 
den. Rapoldi was the most famous pupil of Spohr and be- 
came devoted to his young Negro pupil; the boy's master, 
as an evidence of his regard, gave him a chin rest, modeled 
and carved by Spohr, which in turn Douglas offered to me. 
It was cut out of a solid block of rosewood made to fit over 
the tailpiece. It seemed too precious a thing for me to receive, 
and I declined the gift. I can remember Douglas' disappoint- 
ment at my refusal. I am very sorry that I did not take it; it 
was offered so spontaneously. 

After studying with Rapoldi for some years, Douglas 


John Douglas, Negro 

went to Paris to study the French school of violin playing. 
In both countries he worked steadily at composition, playing 
the piano and later on the violoncello. He learned to speak 
French easily, but in America he had had no occasion to use 
any foreign tongue. With my father and mother he spoke 
German. He composed much music, of which the piles of 
manuscript in his home were ample evidence. He occasion- 
ally played at entertainments given by people of his race, 
but outside of his friends few knew of his existence. He tried 
to enter a symphony orchestra in this country, but those 
doors were closed to a colored man. Being of a modest and 
retiring nature he was not able to insist on being heard. 
Douglas was like a fish out of water, ahead of his time by 
thirty or forty years. He grew despondent and later on be- 
gan to drink. I believe I was his only pupil, but there never 
was a question of payment for such service as he rendered 
me. I recall so vividly my playing Mazas, Pleyel and Viotti 
duets with him, for two violins, violin and viola, and cello 
and violin. In this way I learnt to read at sight and to play 
with better rhythmic values. 

In order to augment his meager income he learnt to play 
the guitar and played it remarkably. I remember his per- 
formance of his own arrangement for the guitar of the 
Tannhauser March, and other excerpts of this opera which 
had been played in New York for the first time only a few 
years before. Like Paganini, he adored the guitar and dived 
deep into its technical possibilities. I was always aware of 


Music Is My Faith 

his artistic and intellectual superiority, and envied him his 
musical erudition; an envy which awakened the desire in me 
for further knowledge. 

Now do you realize how much John Douglas meant to 




WE ARE all at the theatre: 

Mother, Father, my brother and myself. Mother is very ex- 
citedshe always is at the theatre. Leopold and I are excited, 
too, but are at that age when we think restraint a sign of 
maturity. Father keeps looking at the musicians in the pit. 
They are playing a selection from Victor Herbert. The 
house lights go down, the footlights go up, bathing the bot- 
tom of the curtain in a golden glow that promises everything. 
Father is still looking at the musicians'* pit. "What are you 
thinking of, Father? 9 ' 

"Fm thinking of a pale, thin, fourteen-year-old boy, in 
that pit. Myself, over fifty years ago." 

My mother and father adored the theatre, and went very 
often to performances of Palmer's Stock Company at the 
Union Square Theatre, on the south side of the square, now 
a cheap dress emporium. The leader of the orchestra was 
Henry Tissington, an Englishman whom my father ap- 


Music Is My Faith 

proached to secure a place for me in his orchestra of ten men. 
Of course I had to play for him; but not being a member 
of the Musical Union, and having had no experience, I was 
ineligible. Mr. Tissington, however, suggested my playing 
in the orchestra for practice naturally without pay. Such 
apprenticeship was quite common in those days, and all 
eligible young players had this fine opportunity of learning 
to play in an orchestra and to follow the beat of the con- 
ductor's stick. Later on, the Musical Mutual Protective 
Union forbade this practice for the reason that a few dis- 
honest conductors would place these unpaid members of 
an orchestra and charge them up to the management as 
regular salaried members. 

My joy at being allowed to go to the theatre every night 
and two matinees a week cannot be conceived. It was the 
happiest engagement of my life. I would be at the theatre 
long before any of the orchestra came, walking on the stage, 
becoming acquainted with that mysterious life behind the 
scenes, the lifting and moving of scenery, the miraculous 
lighting of border gaslights by electric sparks, and the blind- 
ing glare of calcium light projectors. It was a complete 
fairyland to me. Sometimes during the day, when the theatre 
was dark and empty, I used to walk down to Union Square 
and talk by the hour to a captivating old stage-doorkeeper. 
I listened enraptured while he told me of the wonderful 
actor folk he had met; the more famous they were, the more 
intimate acquaintanceship did he claim! 

Palmer's Stock Company was renowned at that time. 


Union Square Theatre and Actor-worship 

Among the members was Charles Thorne, leading man, 
beautiful Sara Jewett, leading lady, Parselle, Owen Fawcett, 
Stoddard "old man Stoddard" as he was affectionately 
called. "Star" guests at this theatre were Joseph Jefferson, 
Clara Morris, Fannie Ward, and Alexander Salvini, son of 
the great Tomaso. I remember one night an hour before 
curtain raising, standing at the half -open door of Jefferson's 
dressing-room when that charming man asked me to enter. 
When I told him I was a member of the orchestra he told 
me how much he loved music, and how delighted he was 
with the solo playing of a young Frenchman, Louis Kapp, 
who played simple but attractive pieces, always between the 
first and second acts. I myself marveled at Kapp's fine style 
and his fluent fingers. But even as I marveled I was filled 
with depression, for I felt I should never play as well as he 
did. Twenty years afterwards, when I was concertmaster 
of the New York Symphony Orchestra, Louis Kapp sat 
behind me. He still showed the quality of his fine French 
schooling, but the intervening years had taken toll of his 
enthusiasm and warmth of sound, and he had lost his nerve 
and desire to appear as soloist. 

You smile sometimes, I know, at my almost childish hero- 
worship of actors. It started at the Union Square Theatre, 
and no amount of so-called Broadway commercialism seems 
to dim it. The magic of that pretense is too potent. And the 
people who purvey that magic seem endowed to me at 
least with a special quality, a sort of golden quality, that 
removes them from us other mortals. 


Music Is My Faith 

The entrance of the man who those long years ago at 
the Union Square most of all inspired this hero worship 
was unheralded; for the last time, I suppose, in his life. Pal- 
mer had bought a new French play, A Parisian Romance 
for his famous stock company. The rehearsals went well I 
always managed to be present at most of them until Mr. 
Stoddard threw up his part of the Baron Chevrial, which he 
considered too small and unsuited to him, and which was in 
reality a minor role. There was little time left before the 
first night of the play and frantic search was made for a 
substitute for Stoddard. A young and very talented actor 
was found to be just the right man for the part, but he was 
singing a season of light opera at the Standard Theatre, and at 
that particular time was in the cast of Les Manteaux Noir. 
However, his release was secured, and the only condition 
he made was that he be permitted to enlarge and develop the 
part of the Baron Chevrial. This he did with such remarkable 
ingenuity that it became the leading part in the play, and on 
the opening night this young man Richard Mansfield- 
scored for the play an immediate and huge success. Mansfield 
was made, and so was A Parisian Romance. I shall never for- 
get the breathless excitement, the thunderous applause that 
rose solely on that brilliant performance of Mansfield's. I 
could not believe it was the same young man I had seen at 
the rehearsals, for here on the stage above me was a rickety 
old roue of the Paris boulevards to the life. 

It was in my modest place in the orchestra of the Union 
Square Theatre that I heard the English language spoken 


Union Square Theatre and Actor-worship 

with a beauty strange and entrancing to me. Charles Thome's 
fine voice particularly made a deep impression on a young 
and very sensitive boy who had only heard the crass and 
ordinary jargon of the streets and his family's necessarily 
broken English. My father at that time spoke Polish to my 
mother, and a strangely accented English to us children. 
The schoolteachers paid no attention to the correction of 
poor speech in the pupils. So while the other musicians went 
under stage to play cards during the performance, I remained 
in the orchestra pit, listening enthralled every night to the 
eloquent speech of these players. 

I began reading in deadly earnest all the best there was in 
English literature, much to the displeasure of my parents 
who felt that I was wasting my time on books "that were 
not true" when I had better, and much more to my profit, 
practice my violin. I had already left school, being then 
fifteen years of age. I was not strong, was easily tired, and 
unable to practice at long periods. I had to spread my few 
hours of practice throughout the day. Besides I had no 
teacher and no one to prepare for. I saw even then that I 
must earn money to pay for lessons, and at the end of that 
season went to Joyce's Band Headquarters and asked for 




XHAT summer, through Joyce, 

I played at a skating rink at Coney Island, twice a day, from 
two to three hours each session. The band consisted of one 
violin (myself, then sixteen), one cornet, one trombone, one 
clarinet, one flute, and drums; there was no piano, no second 
violin, no viola. One of the Joyce brothers was in this curious 
band. The incessant noise of the roller skates, the horrible 
band, the long hours and the heat told on me heavily, and 
I asked Joyce to give me something else to do. He sent me 
to play at balls in the city, and on one of these "jobs" I met 
a young pianist who also played the violin, Emil Baake, the 
son of a shoemaker. We were sent out together many times, 
playing cotillions at places up the Hudson and on Long 
Island. The music for these cotillions consisted wholly of 
waltzes. Sometimes we would have fifteen or twenty on the 
music stands at one time, playing one after the other for 
hours without intermission. We played all the Strauss and 
Waldteuf el waltzes, which I loved, and learnt to play with 
swing and rhythm through Baake's many suggestions. Usu- 

/ Play in Honky-Tonks 

ally we played from nine until eleven, then had supper pre- 
ceding another session of about an hour. 

Emil and I made friends and were much together, playing 
good music at both our houses. We had an old square up- 
right, bought cheaply by my father with a lot of fine an- 
tiques at an auction. Baake introduced me to many dance 
musicians, and, as I began to make a reputation among them, 
my earnings increased. 

One summer, with Harry Hall as cornettist, we went to 
Asbury Park. We hoped for engagements for dance music at 
the many hotels there, and were successful in securing enough 
at least to pay expenses. Being at Asbury Park at this time 
was a godsend to me. There were long hours on the beach 
or bathing in the ocean, and very often rowing on Deal 

As the result of my summer's work I had a few dollars 
in hand. This meant I would have money for lessons. On 
my return to the city I sought out a teacher of reputation, 
August Zeiss, a pupil of Spohr who lived on the lower East 
Side. He was a dry old man, given to drink and snuff. He 
always sat in one place. Beside his chair, on the dingy carpet, 
there was a dark brown spot where droppings from his in- 
cessant use of the snuffbox had left their indelible mark. At 
the close of the lessons, of an exact duration of one hour, no 
more, no less, his giant of a wife came in to receive from 
me the two dollars in payment for the lesson. I learnt after- 
wards that she did this to keep her little, shriveled husband 
from spending it at the nearest Bierstube. 


Music Is My Faith 

Zeiss taught only music by Spohr, which he played in a 
dry, mechanical manner and unyielding tone, but with im- 
peccable intonation. If any of his pupils tried to use vibrato, 
experimenting in this attractive but dangerous medium for 
warmth of tone, he would fly into a paroxysm of fury. 
I took the risk, however surreptitiously, to be sure and 
knowing no better, developed a faulty vibrato which gave 
me years of labor to correct. My teacher, following the 
method of his master, had divided the use of the bow into 
three sections, and woe betide the students of Zeiss if at the 
playing of a particular passage a "wrong" part of the bow 
was used. 

I stayed with Zeiss one year. I could not stand the blunt- 
ing of any individual idea of my own, nor the discourage- 
ment that came through the lack of musical enthusiasm on 
the part of my teacher. It was Spohr, always Spohr. I went 
through the entire Spohr school, a rather large book, several 
concertos, and smaller pieces, all of which I found at that 
time dry and deadening. But today I am grateful for the 
discipline of this experience, and in our "freedom" of mod- 
ern teaching realize the lack of such training. 

During this winter I played in dancing schools on Ave- 
nue A in the lower part of the city, often until the early 
morning hours, and in Carey's band at various halls Lyric 
Hall at Sixth Avenue and Forty-first Street, which still 
stands, and Walhalla Hall in Canal Street. 

Whenever I see murder headlines in the tabloids I think 
of the ball given by the Coal Shovelers Association at that 

I Play in Honky-Tonks 

Walhalla Hall. During the intermission Carey was handed 
six dollars by the secretary of the Association to "treat the 
band." Being the only one on the little balcony besides the 
leader, Carey turned to me, saying that I was to say nothing 
about this to the other "fellers." He had no sooner started 
the second part of the dance program, when a frightful 
scream was heard above the din, and then all the lights went 
out. I sat in the darkness (we had suddenly stopped play- 
ing) huddled in fear and bewilderment, when, close behind 
me, a rough voice yelled "Play on, you little son of a 
b ." A man had been stabbed and carried out before the 
lights went up; then the police came in and the ball was 

In the cold of the early morning I walked up Broadway 
from Canal Street to my home at Twenty-fifth Street near 
Seventh Avenue, carrying my violin case and an iron fold- 
ing stand. Chilled, weary, shocked, I arrived to find my 
mother waiting up for me with food and warm drink. 

I never told her about the frightful places I played in. In- 
stead I drew imaginary scenes of delight and pleasure that 
I lived through in my "musical activities." 



THE M.M.P.U.-i88 3 

ALL of the orchestral work 

I had done up to this time had necessarily been in the com- 
pany of non-union musicians, for I did not belong to the 
union. Now, however, wishing to play with better-class 
musicians, I made my application to the Secretary of the 
Musical Mutual Protective Union and was soon summoned 
before the examining committee of the union. I found the 
chairman was Theodore Moses, my teacher of several years 
back, with whom my father had the quarrel that led to 
Moses' dismissal of me as a pupil. I felt on entering the room 
the antagonistic manner of the committee's chairman, and 
was certain that I would not be accepted. And so it turned 
out. I was heartbroken and felt that the world was against 
me. It seemed that all hope of ever being allowed to play in 
a good orchestra or of ever gaining the necessary experience 
which might make me eligible for playing under Damrosch 
or Theodore Thomas had now fled. My father went to see 
Moses, but he was not at home; his mother was, however, and 
told him that, on account of the grievous insult my father 


The M.M.P.U.-188; 

had offered her son, I would never, never, be admitted into 
the union as long as he had any power to keep me out. And 
so I went on with my disheartening vocation as a dance 

Still I tried and tried for possible means of escape, and one 
day in company with my father I hadn't the courage to go 
alone we called on W. L. Bowron, an Englishman, then 
leader of the Fourteenth Street Theatre orchestra, to ask 
for a position under him. He was very kind and asked me 
to come and play for him, which I did the next day. After 
hearing me he said he would engage me at $2.50 a per- 
formance or $17.50 per week for seven performances. 

Then came the dreaded question. "Was I a member of the 
union?" Asking me why I wasn't I told him the story of 
Moses and the examination and the subsequent visit to his 
mother. He became interested, then indignant, saying that 
he was also a member of this committee but that on the day 
of my trial he had chanced to be absent. He took up the 
case immediately with the union, told the Moses episode and 
insisted on another hearing with Moses absent. I was not 
only admitted, but started in the following week as first vio- 
lin under Bowron's leadership. Bowron never knew how 
much he had done for me, nor what important events came 
to pass because of his kindness. In thankfulness to his 
memory I have tried to repeat his kind act to other young 

In those years I felt everything in life as deeply as I did 
the music I was playing. It was not the best temperament for 


Music Is My Faith 

a boy lacking woefully in weight and physical endurance; 
and to attain the necessary technique of the instrument re- 
quired long and arduous hours of persistent and unremitting 
effort. As a result I felt miserable and depressed most of the 
time, and the only surcease came through the ambitious op- 
timism of my mother and in playing good music for some- 
one, some neighbor who knew nothing about music and who 
thought my talent a miraculous one! I knew better, for 
hadn't I heard young d'Angremont, a wonderful Brazilian 
boy, play the Mendelssohn Concerto 1 ? and August Wil- 
helmj the Beethoven at Koster and Bial's, on Twenty-third 
Street near Sixth Avenue^ How hopeless my dream seemed 
to be after such experiences! I bought these works even 
though, alas, I wasn't ready for them; but I did study them, 
nevertheless, by myself. 

Now that I was a member of the union I was permitted 
to stand on the sidewalk, on Fourth Street, between the 
Bowery and Second Avenue, where the union was situated, 
among hundreds of fellow musicians; making acquaintances 
among them, so that I might become known and sought-after 
for a summer engagement. In August I was engaged on the 
street to substitute for a violinist playing at the Grant House, 
a mile from Catskill Village on the Hudson. I received fif- 
teen dollars a week and board. Meals were eaten with the 
maids and coachmen in the basement of the hotel. My room 
was in a detached building in close proximity to my com- 
panion pianist and cornettist, who were not only most un- 
sympathetic but decidedly unattractive in their way of 


The MM.?.U.-i88i 

thinking and drinking and living in general. I enjoyed 
much more eating and talking with the coachmen and the 
maids, among whom I made friends, than being with my 

A great temptation came to me at Grant House. One 
sunny afternoon I rowed down the creek for about a mile, 
where it joined the Hudson, and to my delight I saw a 
beautiful, white ocean-going yacht lying at anphor. I cir- 
cled her several times, then heard the kindly voice of a man 
calling from the deck, "Wouldn't you like to come aboard?" 
Down the landing steps came a sailor and, still amazed, I 
was led to the deck, where I met the owner, Mr. Norman 
L. Munroe, the publisher, Mrs. Munroe, and their daughter 
Norma for whom the yacht was named. They received me 
most cordially. We went down to the cabin, and soon a 
Japanese butler was bringing us tall, clinking glasses of ice- 
cold champagne. Then came an astonishing suggestion. Mr. 
Munroe said they were interested in my playing they had 
listened to me the previous afternoon at the hotel and since 
they were going to make a world cruise shortly in their 
yacht, wouldn't I like to come along as their guest, to play 
for them whenever I pleased? I could not believe my ears, 
and was overcome by their kindness, but told them it would 
interfere with my plans. I left them most regretfully, hop- 
ing to see them again. But I never did. Nor have I ever un- 
derstood the generosity which prompted this amazing and 
unexpected proposition. It seemed completely fantastic and 


Music Is My Faith 

"But why, Father, why didtft you go? How could any 
poor young man, in your circumstances, struggling and un- 
fulfilled, resist a chance like that?' 9 

"7 don't know. I have often puzzled about that myself. 1 
suppose I knew somehow down deep that there was a definite 
road for me to follow in life, and that this would have led 
me away from it." 

"Somehow that seems to have been a sort of spiritual 
landmark in your life. If you had gone on that yacht, you 
would have become a totally different man" 

On my return to the city, I sought out Mr. Herman 
Brandt, concertmaster of the Philharmonic, hoping to have 
lessons with him. He was a superior kind of man, and I liked 
him very much. He left, however, in a few months, to ac- 
cept an engagement in California, suggesting that I study 
with his successor in the orchestra, Carl Richter Nicolai. I 
stayed several seasons with him, studying Rode caprices, 
Viotri concertos, also those of Spohr, including the Gesang 
Scene by this composer. His best pupil was Gustave Saenger 
who later gave up the study of the violin to work in the 
music store of Carl Fischer on Cooper Square, where he was 
an influential member of the firm until his recent death. 
f I was now quite steadily employed in the city, was paying 
! for my lessons, and helping in a small way to increase 
\ Mother's fund, which had to provide food and raiment for 
\our very large family. Besides this I was saving money. 




IN AN interim of unemploy- 
ment in the theatre I went on tour with the Lillian Conway 
Opera Company of Philadelphia. We left with nine men in 
the orchestra, and Harry Lauer as conductor. The singer, 
Miss Conway, a tall and rather portly soprano, had an ex- 
cellent, trained voice and seemed to be a good musician. We 
started up the Hudson, our first performance at Poughkeep- 
sie being La Belle Helene by Offenbach; then followed other 
towns in quick succession, with presentations of The Chimes 
of Normandy, La Perichole, and several other operettas 
which I do not now recall. Jeff de Angelis was the principal 
singing actor in the company, playing the miser in the 
Chimes and humorous parts in other works. 

The members of the orchestra had left us, one by one, 
until the leader and I were the only ones. The "orchestra" 
then consisted of one violin and a piano, Lauer doing splen- 
did service, conducting, playing, prompting, and singing (in 
no hushed voice) with the chorus, which had also shrunk 
to ineffective proportions. We finally came to Dover, New 


Music Is My Faith 

Jersey, with this meager company; the cast, to every man 
and woman, remaining despite unpaid salaries. I had to send 
home for money from my savings to pay my living expenses. 
I paid in each town one dollar for a bed in a rooming house, 
and ate in the cheapest eating places. I did, however, love 
the life, the music and my companions. They took much 
solicitous care of me. I was young, in my eighteenth year, 
and I naturally enjoyed being such an important and per- 
haps indispensable member of the company! Besides, I was 
learning independence and a certain fearlessness in playing 
that stood me in good stead later on. 

But springtime came, and I felt that I must go back home 
to look for a summer engagement. Miss Conway personally 
begged me to stay, promising to sell her jewelry and to pay 
nie back-salary due. This I hadn't the heart to accept and 
reluctantly begged them to secure someone in my place, 
which they did. The company disbanded shortly after- 

It was about this time that I met Loren Bragden, leader 
of the Rutgers College Glee Club, living with his mother 
and sister near the campus of the college at New Bruns- 
wick, New Jersey. He engaged me as soloist for the series 
of spring concerts on tour. We played at a number of towns 
up the Hudson as far as Cohoes and Troy. I was happy to 
be with these genial, well-educated young men of "good" 
families. They were all so kind and interested. They wanted 
me to go to their college, little knowing how badly prepared 
I was to enter collegiate training or the preparatory work 


Road Work 

leading to an entrance examination. The idea itself was very 
alluring, if only in the opportunity (which up to then had 
naturally been denied me) of associating with well-bred 
young men. But what I wanted above all else was to go on 
with my violin. The years were slipping by, and when I 
remembered the playing of young d'Angremont and another 
prodigy, Michael Banner, both younger than I, I realized 
that my work and study must not be diverted from theTpkns 
I had made for myself. I was saving as much of my earnings 
as possible, questioning the outlay of even the smallest sum. 
I wanted to go to Europe to study. 




AN THE autumn I was back 

once more at the Fourteenth Street Theatre. Since it was a 
"Combination House" a theatre rented to producers and 
weekly engagements of traveling companies, there were 
sometimes gaps of weeks in our employment. 

The first play that autumn was The Old Homestead, with 
Denman Thompson as the old farmer with the wayward 
son. I suppose I must be branded as naive when I say that the 
farmhouse set was beautiful. It had a "real" well and oaken 
bucket, and a brook of real water, which started in an ell 
way back on the Fifteenth Street side, at the stage entrance, 
high enough so that the incline was sufficient for the water 
to run down to center stage, form a waterfall over some 
rocks, and splash into a pool. I cannot help it, that sort of 
thing still delights me. And it certainly delighted people 
then. We played old American songs, and accompanied Den- 
man Thompson in his singing of The Old Oaken Bucket 
and Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight. It brought back 
my summers on the farm in Otsego County and I loved it. 


Stage-Struck and Art-Struck 

The succeeding play, Fascination, with Cora Tanner in 
the lead, I remember well, for it gave me my first chance to 
conduct the orchestra and to follow the cues for the dra- 
matic music. Bowron, you see, now controlled the music at 
another theatre, too the Bijou at Thirty-second Street, 
Broadway and while he superintended the orchestra there, 
he sometimes left me in charge at Fourteenth Street. 

Next came the engagement of Robert Mantell in a re- 
vival of Dumas* The Corsican Brothers. I thought Mr. Man- 
tell the handsomest man I had ever seen. I am afraid he was 
a bit flabby and touched-up when you saw him as a child, 
but at that time I wholeheartedly adored him. And I was 
hypnotized by the play, for I actually lived, ate and dreamed 
the part of Fabian. I could think of nothing else. There was 
one musical number for violin solo which always brought 
on Fabian. This I played with such feeling that nightly I 
wept at his death on the fall of the curtain. Then I read 
everything that Dumas had ever written and soaked my- 
self thoroughly in the romance of cloak and sword. 

During the first intermission I always played a short solo, 
standing up and facing the audience which always applauded 
me most appreciatively. After the performance one eve- 
ning, just as I was about to dive beneath the stage, someone 
called to me from the orchestra row, and there stood a tall 
and handsome gentleman. "I liked your playing," he said; 
"what is your name?" Would I, he continued, care to play 
at the Salmagundi Club for him and his friends on the next 
Sunday night? Without pay, alas, he explained, for he could 


Music Is My Faith 

not afford it. Naturally I was only too glad to accept. The 
Salmagundi Club now is rather an academic backwater, but 
then it was the center of a sort of gentlemanly Bohemia a 
group of cultivated men who were the successful artists of 
the day. My new friend, in fact, was Henry W. Ranger, at 
that time a well-known water-colorist. (You grew up with 
one of his best pictures that gray day on the Seine. It has 
great charm, even now when Ranger is to most a forgotten 
name.) Sunday night I went to the Salmagundi Club and 
to Ranger's accompaniment on the piano I played all the 
things I knew. They flattered me, and they spoiled me, but 
they didn't deceive me. I knew I was an immature musician 
and a half-baked violinist. I had merely "put something 


The Salmagundi success led to the Lotos Club, and before 
I knew it my playing had ushered me into a new world: a 
world of cultivation and ideas, of successful men at ease with 
life. (To you, perhaps, their conversation would have seemed 
academic, possibly even dull, but to me it was a revelation.) 
At Ranger's Sunday night parties the painters of the mo- 
mentHarry Graham, Horatio Walker, Robert Reid (who 
knows them now?) would talk for hours and hours about 
line, form and color, about Titian, Rembrandt and Velas- 
quez, about tempera, oil and fresco. 

They sent me to the Metropolitan Museum. T^hey juade 
me look at things in a new and astonishing light. I had al- 
ways thought shadows were black. Now I saw a hundred 
different variations in the colors of shadow. 


Stage-Struck and Art-Struck 

Ranger sent me to the libraries to read; not books on art 
alone, but novels, by the best writers- And Mrs. Ranger 
coached me in many observances of behavior in polite so- 
ciety that stood me in good stead then and later on. My 
family were rather displeased at the many hours I spent in 
the Ranger household: they thought I was growing away 
from them and wasting my time, just to give pleasure to 
the Rangers by my playing. What an infinitesimal return 
for the new life they had opened my eyes to! 

These experiences determined me more and more to seek 
European study, not alone for music but also to feel close 
to a part of the world that had given my splendid new friends 
so much to live by. I felt so ignorant, so uncultivated, that 
despair often followed this awakening into a larger and 
richer universe. But it led strangely enough to tolerance of 
and love for those about me who did not have my opportuni- 
ties. For without my fiddle, that magic carpet carrying me 
into wonderful places, I should have been denied entrance. 




1 HAD already saved several 

hundreds of dollars, which Father had banked for me, and 
I could now see the possibility of going to Germany, if not 
for a year or two, at least during the summer months, re- 
turning to work in the winter to earn and save enough to 
be able to go over again. 

My father was now doing well in his business. It had 
begun to flourish under the clever assistance of my eldest 
brother and it encouraged my father to set up his son in a 
similar business on Eighth Avenue, backing this new ven- 
ture on his own credit, which was good. He had a fine repu- 
tation for upright dealings and was progressive in his meth- 
ods. This venture was not successful and my poor father, 
responsible financially for the new concern, and pressed by 
creditors for payment, was at his wits' end to secure funds 
to uphold his good name. His friends helped and so did thd 
seven or eight hundred dollars I had saved to go to Europe. 
Father's good name was secure and I was happy that I could 
help in this small way. My trip abroad, however, was neces- 
sarily postponed. 


Setbacks and Compensations 

"You mention that sacrifice pretty casually , Father. Was 
there no sense of martyrdom in it? Surely you allowed your- 
self self-pity?" 

"Actually, no. But dorit put that doivn to saintliness. It 
never even occurred to me to do anything else. Naturally 
I 'was disappointed but 'what else could one do? They would 
have done the same for me" 

Bowron had now placed me at the Bijou Theatre for the 
run of The City Directory , a revue in which Willie Collier 
was the young, agile and quietly funny star. The City Di- 
rectory, which had musical numbers and many dances, was 
great fun for me, and sometimes I conducted an act on Sat- 
urday nights when Mr. Bowron went below to make out the 
salary envelopes for the orchestra. 

I think it was shortly after this that he either lost the en- 
gagement of both theatres or left for his home in England. In 
either case I was out of a job, but I quickly found one at the 
Standard, where they were inaugurating a season of light 
opera under Victor Herbert. This venture did not have a 
long life; the orchestra, the largest I had played in, was re- 
duced in size after the first week, and I, among others, was 
dismissed to cut expenses. Then came short engagements, 
one at the Alcazar, later the Broadway Theatre, where Agnes 
Huntington was starring in the operetta Paul Jones. Miss 
Huntington, a little later on, married the young and brilliant 
lawyer, Paul D. Cravath. 

It was February, and a summer's engagement had to be 

Music Is My Faith 

secured. I wrote to dozens of well-known summer hotels and 
waited anxiously for answers. In April, while I was turning 
the rancid turf in our backyardwe were living at West 
Twenty-fifth Street then preparatory to making a garden 
(I did this every year) and fertilizing it with manure I had 
collected in the streets, I heard my mother's voice calling 
from the window, "A gentleman to see you." I quickly 
washed my hands and smoothed my tousled hair, and met 
this gentleman in the parlor. I was covered with soil and my 
boots were a sight. It was Myron Brown, manager of the 
Sagamore Hotel on Lake George. 

"I got your application to furnish music," he said, "and 
you seem to be the kind of young man I need." Then he 
asked all kinds of questions, and finally said that I was to 
come with a pianist. He agreed to pay me seventeen dollars 
a week, and fifteen for the pianist. 

"Don't you want to hear me play?" I asked. 

"Oh, no," he said, "I don't know a damn thing about mu- 
sic. I'd rather take a chance on you, you look all right." 

I was elated beyond words, and my mother rejoiced with 
me, though my absence in the summer was a sad experience 
for her, and of course I hated to leave her in the hot city. 

I immediately engaged my friend, Emil Baake, as pianist. 
We rehearsed diligently, gathering a repertoire of concert as 
well as dance music. The summer was most successful, and 
the joy of living on that beautiful lake was limitless. I rowed, 
sailed and swam every day, and delighted in playing for the 
guests, making many friends among them. I would play for 

Setbacks and Compensations 

the sheer joy of playing as long as they wanted me to. My 
father and mother came as my guests and the satisfaction of 
doing this for my parents made my happiness even greater 
than theirs. 

The law of compensation being inexorable, though, this 
happiness was followed by a period of distress, for my mother 
fell ill. Years ago a heavy table had fallen on her, knocking 
her down and causing internal injuries. Mother refused to 
undergo a doctor's examination and chose instead to follow 
a neighbor's advice and go to a famous clairvoyant. This 
clairvoyant went into a trance and said that mother had 
suffered an injury in her side and that a large abscess had 
formed. Father then called in a diagnostician. Without know- 
ing the incident of the clairvoyant he confirmed entirely her 
diagnosis. An operation became the only solution, and my 
father spent everything he had to give her the best possible 

While my mother was at the hospital I did the providing 
for the family, marketed and cooked all the meals. And they 
were good ones, too especially the steaks. At night, of 
course, I kept up my engagement at the theatre. 

Thanks to Father's insistence on the finest doctors, the 
operation was brilliantly successful, and my mother for 
twenty-five years afterwards was well and strong. 



WHAT to do in the winter 

was always a problem that loomed higher as the summer 
drew to a close, for employment I must have in order to 
save again for study in Europe. 

Immediately after my return to the city my morning 
visits to hateful Fourth Street began, to stand among hun- 
dreds of musicians in front of the M.M.P.U. waiting for jobs. 
Among these men was Theodore Hoch, a virtuoso trum- 
peter from Hamburg, who through lack of concert engage- 
ments had sought the position of leader at Koster and Rial's 
Music Hall. I was recommended to him and he engaged me 
for seven concerts a week, telling me to appear at rehearsal 
the following morning. I went, and to my despair found that 
I was to be a member of an orchestra of only nine men, in- 
cluding the pianist and leader. What a change from the old 
days when I had heard d'Angremont and Wilhelmj there! 

Koster and Bial's was founded and managed by the firm 
of beer and wine importers of that name. It ran from Twenty- 
third Street clear to Twenty-fourth, near Sixth Avenue, very 


Koster and Biafs 

wide and lofty, with one balcony running all around the 
building. On the floor were chairs and tables at which beers 
of all kinds were served; wine and liquor, too. In the early 
days it was a treat to go there to see and listen to the playing 
of Rudolf Rial's orchestra. The conductor was brought from 
Vienna by his cousin, the junior member of the firm. There 
were about fifty players, the best in the city. How I used to 
watch Hamm the concertmeister, and dream and hope that 
I, too, would foccupy so honored a position! Bial was fa- 
mous for his conducting of the Strauss waltzes, during which 
he took up his violin and played along with his men in quite 
the Viennese swing, we were told. 

On the stage where Rudolf conducted his splendid sym- 
phony orchestra, where Wilhelmj stood so majestically play- 
ing the Beethoven concerto, now were groups of vaudeville 
performers waiting to have their numbers rehearsed. Hoch's 
English was very scant and uncertain and so he had his 
leader's platform made large enough for two chairs, one 
of which I occupied. His playing of the violin was like his 
English, and so it devolved on me to arrange most things 
with the performers, and to "vamp," with the help of that 
clever young pianist Fredericks, a dance or two that might 
be demanded at any moment from the stage during the per- 

At one time during the winter we were told that in two 
weeks the orchestra must turn itself into a brass band to take 
part in a Processional on the stage, in uniform, in company 
with the entire vaudeville troupe. I was given a B flat Alto, 

Music Is My Faith 

and the music of the march; no teacher, no previous experi- 
ence, nothing. The neighborhood in which we lived was 
made miserable for the next fortnight, but I did play the B 
flat Alto with every ounce of strength in me. 

You ask me sometimes if I am shocked by this or that. 
How could I be, when at the age of eighteen I was playing 
for harlots and pimps? It isn't that I condemned these people 
for their life; but it somehow hurt me to feel that in the hall 
where a music-loving public had sat rapt in joy and admira- 
tion of Bial's fine programs there were now hard-faced, 
bitter-eyed women, and overdressed young fops swigging 
quarts of champagne in an atmosphere of cigar smoke, stale 
drinks and smut. 

Back of the stage was the famous, or rather infamous, cork 
room. Its ceilings and walls were so closely studded with 
champagne corks glued together that no plaster was visible. 
Into this room I frequently had to go to receive or deliver 
music belonging to the vaudeville performers usually in 
a high state of a champagne-induced hilarity. You see, these 
girls received a percentage on each bottle, and many held 
their jobs as performers mainly on the strength of their wine- 
selling talents. 

Once in a while I was asked to take an engagement after 
my night work at Koster and Bial's. One of these happened 
to be a so-called French Ball, an annual affair of rather scan- 
dalous reputation, given at the Academy of Music. Another 
single engagement during the Koster and Bial era of a very 
different sort was at Klunder's Flower Show at the Metro- 


Roster and Bid's 

politan Opera House. A large orchestra was seated in the 
gallery. Below was a marvelous and exotic garden in full 
bloom. I was excited and interested in playing good music 
under the leadership of young Frank Damrosch. He wore a 
pointed dark beard and mustache, and had a serious and 
kindly face. His father, Dr. Leopold Damrosch, had died 
only a short time before this, and the world mourned the 
passing of this inspiring leader and cultivated gentleman. 
Walter Damrosch, the younger son, aged twenty-three, took 
his place at once, and led the combined forces of the Metro- 
politan Opera House in the scheduled performances of the 
Wagner Music Dramas. He sent for his brother Frank then 
distinguishing himself as a musical pioneer in Denver to 
take the position of chorus-master. 

I had seen Walter Damrosch on the street once a hand- 
some and aristocratic figure, with a cameo-like face in an 
aureole of wavy blond hair. Here, I thought, was the fa- 
vored son of the gods, and I shriveled in comparison with 
this bright being. I had read and heard so much about him: 
how his family adored him; how he was helping his father 
in his musical affairs, sometimes at the organ, sometimes in 
the orchestra playing second violin; how he accompanied 
Wilhelmj, the violinist, on his tours. Strange that I had no 
premonition then of his future importance in my public and 
personal life! 

It was in the early spring of that year that I left Koster 
and Bial's. Depressed as usual and physically spent by long 
hours of playing music I loathed in an environment that I 

Music Is My Faith 

was ashamed of, I was finally persuaded by my parents to 
give up my position. 

My next job was in the rather lugubrious company of wax- 
worksat the Eden Musee, no less, on Twenty-third Street 
between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. There I played for several 
months, watching a public as curious as the effigies they 
stared at. I was rather relieved when July came and I went 
again to the Sagamore on Lake George for the summer. 




IHE following autumn I was 

engaged by Gustave Dannreuther of the Dannreuther Quar- 
tet to play one of the first violins in a double string quartet 
at Richard Mansfield's theatre, the Garrick, Thirty-fifth 
Street and Sixth Avenue. We always played beautiful music 
between the acts: excerpts from string quartets and parts of 
suites for strings. A string body of this kind, playing music 
of this quality, was new to the theatregoing public at that 
time, and was much appreciated. Mr. Mansfield always 
wanted the best of everything in his theatre and often sug- 
gested much of the entr'acte music to the players. The Green 
Room was a charming library under stage: books, framed 
pictures of many great actors, soft lights, soft rugs, and a 
big reading table. It was for me a most delightful engage- 
ment, and gave me an unusually intimate insight into the art 
of a masterly actor. 

The bills changed nightly. Beau Brummel, Prince Carl, 
A Parisian Romance, a Russian play called, I think, The Stu- 

Music Is My Faith 

dent, a somber tragedy, and Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. 
Hyde. The latter was truly an amazing performance of 
Mr. Mansfield's in its quick and miraculous change from 
the kindly and attractive Dr. Jekyll to the loathsome, gib- 
bering, fiendish figure of the deformed Hyde. Mr. Dann- 
reuther, our leader, always went below stage during this 
play, for he could not bear even to look at Hyde, so terribly 
did it affect him. At several performances fainting women 
in the audience were carried to the foyer of the theatre and 
fresh air, to be restored to consciousness. 

While the season was a brilliant undertaking, Mr. Mans- 
field, responsible for the entire venture financially, found 
himself heavily in debt, and in the latter part of January 
closed the theatre. With his company he went on tour, leav- 
ing unpaid salaries behind him, with the promise, however, 
that he would settle in full in a short time. He punctiliously 
kept his word; exactly a month afterwards we all received 
the sums owing us for back salaries. 

I was now out of a steady engagement and went every 
morning to Fourth Street to stand among the musicians in 
the hope of finding another theatre position. In the mean- 
time I was sought out as a substitute for single performances, 
one of these being a double-star engagement at the Broad- 
way Theatre of Booth and Salvini, the elder, in Othello. I 
was thrilled to be there, and would have substituted for 
nothing just for the privilege of being so close to these great 

One sunny morning I followed Edwin Booth on his walk 

Richard Mansfield: Anton Seidl: My First Recital 

down Fifth Avenue. I know it was sunny, for the rays of 
the sun glinted on Mr. Booth's silk hat. His face struck me 
as being the sad and beautiful reflection of a very sensitive 
soul. My heart went out to him that morning as I followed 
him for blocks, thinking at the same time of his tragic con- 
nection, through his brother, with the death of my adored 
Abraham Lincoln. 

I was full of Lincoln in those days, as I am now. I read 
and pondered about a figure whose path I meant to follow. 
How could I, as an unknown fiddler, find the path? that 
was the great problem. Could I, through music, achieve the 
broad and beautiful humanity of my idol? However, I had 
to go on with the thing in hand; and waited, and waited, and 
dreamed of a turn in the road to lead me to this desired goal. 

Another single engagement was substituting for Franz 
Kaltenborn at the Metropolitan Opera House in a perform- 
ance of Faust, which included the necessary attendance of 
one rehearsal. I was excited at the thought of playing under 
Walter Damrosch or Anton Seidl, but neither of these well- 
known men was in the conductor's chair. An assistant, un- 
distinguished and unknown to me, directed the orchestra. 

Experiences crowded in upon me, but not the kind that 
helped me along the path I so dimly sensed. My playing, 
while it seemed to interest my listeners, increased my al- 
ready growing suspicion that they knew but little about 
great music, and were satisfied to be emotionally stirred only. 
(In spite of all the musical education and concert-going of 
today, I am afraid that people haven't changed much in that 


Music Is My Faith 

way. They still will sit entranced at any facile violinist who 
sways on his feet and pulls his fiddle apart with false emo- 
tion.) At any rate, to increase their admiration I began to 
capitalize this quality in my playing, knowing rather vaguely 
that it would do little to advance me artistically and in the 
end would prove my undoing. To get away from all this, to 
be in a country where high artistic standards were the com- 
mon heritage of all, was my ardent and continual wish. 

I went on playing theatre engagements, one of which 
lasted for a month at the Criterion Theatre on Fulton Street 
in Brooklyn. I had to count on one and a half hours to reach 
it by street car; consequently, on matinee days, I remained 
in Brooklyn between the performances. This occurred twice 
a week. It wasn't very long before a lady, coming to the 
performance quite often, made herself known to me, and 
after the matinees invited me to drive with her in her landau 
drawn by two fine horses. She sometimes brought me to her 
father's house for dinner, and would then take me back to 
the theatre for the evening performance. I had to stand the 
gamut of the bewildered and amused stares of my brother 
musicians when I drove up to the stage entrance in such regal 

After the engagement at the Criterion was ended, I took 
up again the daily visits on East Fourth Street, and was asked, 
to my gratification, to substitute at two Philharmonic con- 
certs conducted by Anton Seidl. This great Wagnerian con- 
ductor came early to the rehearsals and would sit in the 
conductor's chair reading the newspaper, seemingly uncon- 


Richard Mansfield: Anton Seidl: My First Recital 

scions of the arrival of eighty men and the tuning and prel- 
uding of most of them. He would never begin the rehearsal 
until he was told that all the men were assembled. 

I confess I was disappointed at this first experience of mine, 
in a symphony orchestra. Partly because Seidl, except for , 
his magnificent and unparalleled conducting of Wagner, > 
seemed so uninspired in his handling of Beethoven and the i 
other great German classics. And partly because I felt de- 
plorably out of place. The men were all Germans and the 
rehearsal was carried on in that tongue, which I, of course, 
understood, but spoke poorly. I believe I was one of the very ( 
few native-born members in that orchestra, and I felt my- 
self on alien soil and an intruder among strangers. Of course 
I hoped that in some way I might be chosen some day as a 
regular member, but I hadn't realized how difficult it wa$ 
for an outsider to become one. 

It was a co-operative association, financed by the men, and 
supported mainly by the Philharmonic Association of lay- 
members who were mostly subscribers. It needed influence 
I did not possess to assure me of election. Besides, I only too 
sadly realized that I had not had the right experience to pre- 
pare me for such an exalted place. 

I had so many ideas, dreams, and prayers for a better place 
in a living world all of which led to confusion, and moments 
of despair alternating with senseless elation. The hourly 
barometer of my spirits fluctuated sharply, usually return- 
ing to the final basis of depression. The struggle seemed so 
often a hopeless one. 


Music Is My Faith 

I had read many fine books on philosophy: Chinese and 
Greek, then Buddha, Mohammed, and, most beautiful of all, 
the teachings of Jesus Christ; and in Him I found what I 
needed, the proclamation of the world's purest and most 
everlasting spirit. It seemed to me that humanity, always 
perverse, had surrounded its adoration with cluttering cere- 
monial, standardized, formalized, to rob the individual of 
personal insight, and to reduce him to a very common de- 
nominator; and that ever-growing ritual would raise unsur- 
mountable barriers against his own inner conviction. All the 
performances I had thus far heard had this quality exactly; 
and I dreamt of a freer outgiving of the message of which 
I felt music to be the marvelous tongue. I had never heard 
real music, just performances of it. Conductors and virtuosi 
impressed me with their command, their assurance, their per- 
fection; but I yearned for the one who would give promise 
of a higher flight. If I had had their talent and their training, 
I am sure that I would have given this promise. These 
thoughts rest with me today: I hope for the release in others 
of something I could not achieve in my own playing. 

About this time I learned that Mr. and Mrs. Ranger were 
going abroad in the spring and that I could cross with them. 
My mother had often said, "Why do you want to go abroad? 
You play better than anyone I've ever heard. Don't make 
yourself miserable by leaving home and the care you need." 
Mr. Ranger, on the other hand, advised at least a summer 
of study abroad. For such a plan I had not saved enough, but 

Richard Mansfield: Anton Seidl: My First Recital 

Mr. Ranger suggested a recital at a public hall, saying that 
he would get many of his friends to buy seats. He engaged 
Hardman Hall on lower Fifth Avenue at a date far enough 
advanced for preparation and the sale of tickets. The date 
of my recital drew near and the program was decided on. It 
consisted of many short pieces and a trio by Arthur Foote. 
The pianist was an older man Max Liebling capable and 
experienced. The 'cellist was Arthur Severn, whom I had 
met at the Rangers'! 

The gods were not kind at my debut. It was a cold, stormy 
night, and many of the people who bought tickets did not 
come. The rain descended in torrents, driven by vicious gusts 
of wind. Of course my parents and their friends were there, 
Mr. and Mrs. Ranger, and a few whom Mr. Ranger had 
brought with him. But I remember nothing about the per- 
formance except its aura of failure. 

After the concert my father went home and the Rangers 
also departed. I learnt that the net profits of this adventure 
were something over a hundred dollars. Arthur Severn and 
I went to O'NeiPs oyster saloon for something to eat, and 
to talk about the recital. Afterwards, in stepping out on to 
the pavement, I tripped on a coco-mat, turned my ankle, and 
fell headlong on the sidewalk. I awoke finding Severn bend- 
ing over me and calling someone to bring whisky. I came to 
sufficiently to realize that I was soaked to the skin; it was 
pouring in torrents. My friend took me home in a cab. I as- 
sured him I was all right, and climbed with fiddle case in 


Music Is My Faith 

hand to our rooms up two flights of stairs. Next morning 
the doctor bound up the sprained ankle. And I hobbled to 
work at the Bijou on a crutch for a fortnight, very sorry for 
myself indeed. 



A HE Rangers had set the day 

of their sailing and secured a first-class cabin for me on the 
Holland-America Line steamer "Veendam," a small, out- 
of-date and discarded unit formerly of the White Star Line, 
of about seven thousand tons. In fact, most of the steamers 
of the Dutch Line at that time were acquired in this way. 
The passage cost me fifty-five dollars. 

The night before sailing was a difficult one for me, and 
my mother was heavy-hearted. Stoic that she was, she as- 
sumed a cheerfulness which, however, failed in its effective- 
ness with me. Had she begged me then to stay I would, with 
great happiness, have given up this long-cherished dream of 
mine. Relatives spent the evening with us; they sat round 
the walls of our little parlor, speechless between moments 
of utterance of dismal foreboding, while Mother plied them 
with food. 

The voyage lasted for ten days, most of them stormy, and 
our little creaky ship labored through heavy seas. The son 
of the Single-Taxer Henry George was on board too, a de- 


Music Is My Faith 

lightfully witty young man. He was much annoyed by the 
nightly visits of huge rats in his cabin, some of these running 
over his bed. Mr. Ranger's shoes were partly devoured by 

We landed at Rotterdam and I parted from the Rangers 
in poignant regret, and started for Berlin by way of Cologne. 
At Berlin two cousins on my father's side met me and took 
me to their home near Alexander Platz. They were most kind 
and did all that they could to make me comfortable. The 
family consisted of my uncle, my two cousins, and their sis- 
ter. Their flat was small and dark. They had no connection 
with or knowledge of the musical and artistic life of Berlin, 
and so I was at a loss how to begin my work. I did not know 
with whom to study or where to go for information. 

I called then on the Wittkowskys, my mother's family, 
who lived very attractively in a much better part of the 
town. Their reception was not particularly cordial, but that 
I had expected. My mother never forgave them (my uncle 
and his wife) for their objection to my father as a husband 
for her. They were naturally not interested in the offspring 
of this union. 

However, they advised my studying with Heinrich de 
Ahna, second violin of the Joachim Quartet, and professor 
of the Hochschule. He was a distinguished-looking old gen- 
tleman, in his youth an officer in the Austrian Army. I ap- 
proached his house in fear and waited in a small anteroom, 
trembling, while I listened behind closed doors to the playing 


Europe and Fiasco 

of a brilliant pupil. My heart sank still more. Would he 
take me? 

At last I was shown in, my thirty-five-dollar fiddle in 
hand. I played as well as my frayed nerves would allow. I 
was accepted and told to bring the Mendelssohn Concerto a 
week hence. Studying hours every day, homesick, without 
appetite for food (the preparation of which was strange to 
me) , making myself but fairly understood, for I was ashamed 
of the little hybrid German I knew, I became weak, dispir- 
ited, and drowned in self-pity. It seemed at that time I was 
getting but little out of my lessons, and that the opportunity 
I had so longed for I seemed unable to make full use of. 

In the meantime I had become acquainted with the family 
of my father's sister and her husband. There were two sons 
and two daughters and they begged me to come and live 
with them. They had a room for me and finally it was ar- 
ranged that I should make my home with them in their nice 
apartment on the Stallscreiber Strasse. Here I felt more at 

Shortly afterward I made a visit to another sister of my 
family in Wriezen, a small village on the Oder. They gave 
me a cordial welcome. That night they invited the Burgo- 
meister to hear me play, which I did without accompani- 
ment. The ensuing enthusiasm of this dear old gentleman was 
immense. He said that he had never heard such marvelous 
playing. Starved for encouragement, I was very happy, 
for I thought here, only two hours away from the great 


Music Is My Faith 

musical center of Europe, was a man who paid me such 
a high compliment. I went to bed that night knowing the 
happiest moments in months. Early the next morning I 
sought out the Burgomeister in his own home; he repeated 
what he had said the night before, but when I asked him 
about other violinists he might have heard, he said he had 
never had the opportunity of hearing anyone else! 

Back in Berlin I heard performances at the Royal Opera 
House under Schuch and the young and most popular 
Karl Muck, whom I much admired; and at Kr oil's Sum- 
mer Garden, Marcella Sembrich in a beautiful presenta- 
tion of Mozart's Don Juan with the captivating d'Andrade 
as guest in the title role. The large garden attached to Kroll's 
was an entrancing spot between the acts. Beautiful large 
trees lined the promenades, gaily lit by myriads of small 
lights, and here those of the audience who were not seated 
at tables eating and drinking would stroll back and forth. It 
was a very gay sight. 

My lessons with de Ahna had ceased because my money 
had given out. I hadn't anticipated their high cost. My father 
sent me money afterwards but de Ahna had left for the 
country. Besides, I was too miserable and dispirited to con- 
tinue even if the means were there. My teacher was non- 
committal, perhaps because of the apparent lack of response 
that my ignorance of German caused. 

One day I was overjoyed to receive a letter from home 
saying that my father was coining over to see his relatives 
and would take me back home with him. His business, in 


Europe and Fiasco 

which my elder brother was an active partner, had moved a 
year before to 432 Eighth Avenue where the Pennsylvania 
Station stands today. It had prospered and the neighboring 
store had now been added. The family lived on two upper 

My father came and I was glad to see him. It felt almost 
like being home again. I suspect that Mother urged his com- 
ing over to look after me, tempting him with the idea of 
visiting his relations. I knew, of course, that Father, too, had 
been anxious about me. 

After a week or two of visits with my father in Berlin we 
started for German Poland, coming to Posen, and Gresen, 
and on to Father's birthplace, Povidz. We were traveling in 
an old and rickety droska and we came in sight of an old 
windmill, turning, just as it did when Father left this little 
village to marry Mother. He was deeply moved, I could 
see, and kept still. He had been away for thirty years. His 
father whom he adored had died in the meantime. There 
were a few of his contemporaries left and with these he spent 
hours, but something more than oceans had come between 
them, and the result of our visit was anything but gay. 

A short drive to Wittkowo brought me to my mother's 
birthplace. A few of her friends still lived there. I loved to 
hear them tell of Mother's prettiness, her mischievous pranks. 
They said that Mother was the loveliest girl for miles around. 

We sailed home in the "Fiirst Bismarck" second cabin, an 
uneventful and dull voyage, but I was happy in the thought 
that every turn of the screw brought me nearer home. I 


Music Is My Faith 

thought then that the summer had been a complete fiasco. 
Only when I was on home soil did I realize how the experi- 
ence had benefited me. How often have I told you that noth- 
ing is really wasted! You can use the worst experiences as a 
means of measuring. And though they hurt me bitterly at 
the time, I hardly regret a single one of these false tracks 
that I stumbled along in my youth. 

My first thought now was to seek occupation, and I was 
soon fortunate enough to be among the twenty-one men 
who were to play under Edward Mollenhauer at the Ly- 
ceum Theatre, Fourth Avenue between Twenty-third and 
Twenty-fourth Streets, the site now occupied by the Metro- 
politan Life Insurance Company. The founder and manager 
was Steele Mackaye, formerly builder and manager of the 
beautiful Madison Square Theatre, where Hazel Kirke had 
played for three years continuously. 

In the new Lyceum, Mr. Mackaye made an extraordinary 
innovation called the disappearing orchestra. Above the ex- 
quisite raw silk curtain made by Tiffany, in a balcony just 
over the proscenium, sat the orchestra. When lights were 
lowered the opulent silk curtain parted and showed, instead 
of the opening scene, an orchestra, including a Steinway 
concert grand piano. Elaborate Tiffany-glass-shaded lights, 
in this shallow but substantial room, gave sufficient illumina- 
tion for us to read by. We all wore evening clothes; Mr. 
Mollenhauer standing up to conduct. At the close of the 
overture the curtain closed, opening after one minute on the 
first act of the play, which happened to be Dakolor with 

Europeand Fiasco 

Robert Mantell in the leading role. The orchestra with its 
heavy steel and wooden setting, its twenty-one men and 
piano, had disappeared! 

For two weeks this seeming miracle was the talk of the 
town, and we, as well as everybody connected with the thea- 
tre, were begged not to unfold the secret. After a fortnight 
of conjectures on the part of the public, and in response to 
many requests, Mr. Mackaye promised to show how the 
"trick" was done. And so on the following Monday night, 
after the overture, in full sight of a large audience, this 
"room," the full width of the stage and as high as the pro- 
scenium, ascended, the bottom of it fitting or forming the 
top molding of a huge picture frame which the aperture 
now formed. During the tremendous applause we were step- 
ping out into a room on the walls of which were lockers for 
our belongings, instruments, etc. The play was going on be- 
neath; we were on the level of the "fly." 



1 HAD now begun to play with 

musicians of far better musical standards, one of whom, Carl 
Venth, invited me to play quartets at his home in Brooklyn. 
He was kindly disposed towards me, and helped me in a new 
and valuable experience. Another was Edward Mollenhauer, 
who had a fine reputation as a violin soloist. Then there was 
Nahan Franko, the first violin at the Lyceum Theatre, young, 
dashing and good-looking. He was also the outstanding vio- 
linist of that time. I was beginning to study with more in- 
telligence and making rapid progress. I gained something 
from all these men, but decided not to choose a teacher until 
I had found the man I was looking for. 

The Rangers were back home and I was happy to be often 
with them, playing and meeting interesting people. At tea 
one afternoon came beautiful, tall Julie Opp, the actress. 
After hearing me play she told me that a poetess had written 
a piece for her to recite which was accompanied in its entire 
length by a solo violin, and that she had been searching for 
a violinist who would be interested in doing it with her. We 


A Few Steps Ahead 

rehearsed together, and did it at the Rangers' one Sunday 
night. Later on we appeared at one of Mr. Bagby's musicales 
at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria, with great success. After the 
performance, to our great astonishment and delight, Madame 
Emma Calve came backstage, enthusiastically praising our 
work. She asked me many questions in French, which Julie 
translated, and I was overcome with joy, though I fear I 
showed none of it. Julie must become a great actress and I 
a great violinist. I could see that in Julie, this beautiful crea- 
ture, her prophecy might prove true; as for me, I had no such 
hopes, nor did I seem to desire it. I simply wanted to do 
justice to the music. Later it transpired that she wanted to 
send us both abroad to study. In my case, I never considered 
the proposition seriously, but I was indeed grateful to Mad- 
ame Calve for the encouragement. Julie Opp did go, how- 
ever, to tour in England, and she did, as you know, become 
not only a famous actress but the wife of a famous actor- 
William Faversham. 

My life was becoming more interesting, and I was com- 
paratively happy. My sister was beginning to play well 
enough to accompany me, and our home life was enriched 
by much music, to the particular joy of our mother who 
dropped all her work and sat in gingham apron listening 
with rapt attention to our playing. 

I had now joined the Aschenbrodel Verein (The Cinder- 
ella Club), and as a member was entitled to the benefit of 
seeking engagements in its own clubhouse on Fourth Street, 
near Second Avenue. No longer did I have to stand in the 

Music Is My Faith 

street among the hundreds of players, a particular boon dur- 
ing the winter season when I shivered in the raw city winds. 
These men were among the better class of musician, and 
from them I heard many an interesting story about the two 
great conductors of that day, Theodore Thomas and Dr. 
Leopold Damrosch. 

Theodore Thomas had been in New York since he was a 
young man; a violinist at first, who by sheer force of will 
and the power of gathering valuable and helpful friends 
about him, made a rapid and eif ective rise. He was persona 
grata with the press, and particularly so with the musical 
critics. His popular concerts at the Central Park Garden had 
been a great draw. Later on he became the conductor of the 
Philharmonic Society and the best leader of classical music 
in America. 

At this time Dr. Damrosch, who had been brought over 
from Germany to conduct the Arion Men's Chorus, imme- 
diately made his artistic presence felt in founding the Sym- 
phony and the Oratorio Societies. Factional strife ensued 
among the followers of both conductors, and since Thomas 
was strongly entrenched, it was exceedingly difficult for 
Dr. Damrosch to keep alive his two societies, and many 
were the vicissitudes he passed through. Unconsciously (and 
largely I imagine through my mother's adoration of him) I 
became very sympathetic to Dr. Damrosch 's personality. 

I was now only tWfintjr-jSye, but I felt that I was too 
old to be still doing what I had done for the past ten 
years, and that those years when I should have spent all my 


A Few Steps Ahead 

time at study I was playing jobs, just jobs and to what pur- 
pose? I never cared for the money I earned. I never carried 
any about with me; it was always handed over to Mother 
for safekeeping. (Again I must protest that this was not no- 
bility of character; as your mother well knows, I loathe the 
presence of money on my person. It worries me.) I came to 
the realization, painful as it was, that unless something hap- 
pened I should for the rest of my life rise no higher in my 
own estimation, for I instinctively knew what the word 
"artist" meant, and how far I was from being one. 

When I thought of "the rest of my life" I never believed 
I would live much longer. For while I had no physical ail- 
ment, the trail of that scalding at five years of age led plainly 
to my lack of physical resistance at this time. I was always 
told, because I looked so wan and thin, that something ought 
to be done to make me look better. I did go to doctors, who 
found nothing wrong with me, but even this made me no 
less conscious of my appearance. Existence seemed more and 
more complicated, and even the warmth of friendships could 
not allay the agony of feeling that their faith in me was bound 
to bring them disappointment. 

How could I let them down my mother, Charlotte Haz- 
ard, John Douglas the Negro, the Rangers and their friends, 
all so sure of me and my future? I needed an artist musician 
friend, one whose advice I could follow. To my teachers I 
was only a pupil; no warm, human impulse went out from 
them to find anything worth while in me. I was much too shy 
to approach the great artists who came to New York. I was 

Music Is My Faith 

ashamed of my little achievements, feeling inferior to every- 
one. I rarely went out now for just that reason, but stayed at 
home playing with my sister, practicing and reading. 

One or two pupils now came to me, and on them I lav- 
ished all the care and the hope that what I could not achieve 
they must; and out of the experience of the past I drew for 
them the line of future effort. I felt, in fact, that I was a bet- 
ter teacher than player. 

Whether I was capable of conducting or not, it had always 
been my dream; and I felt I had the necessary physical co- 
ordination and the musical impulse to seek such an oppor- 
tunity, even a modest one. So when I was asked to direct a 
body of workers, amateur musicians meeting in a hall on 
Twenty-third Street, I did so for a month or two without, 
of course, remuneration. This was my first experience at 
reading the simple scores of very ordinary music, popular 
with the men. But they were all very incapable players, and 
did not have the leisure to practice their parts. I became dis- 
couraged at the lack of progress, and at my inability to 
achieve better results. What I like to remember is the fine 
and unselfish attitude of a few of the members and the friend- 
ships I made among them during our association. 

One day, walking past the entrance of a small theatre on 
Broadway and Twenty-ninth Street, over Hanan's Shoe 
Store, I noticed extensive building operations going on at 
the entrance and in the body of the theatre situated over the 
store. The San Francisco Minstrels had formerly played here 


A Few Steps Ahead 

for several seasons, the star performer being Lew Dock- 
stader. I learned that Professor Herrman, the famous presti- 
digitator, had bought the theatre and was spending a large 
sum of money to make it a very attractive home of legitimate 

Here was a chance! I immediately wrote to Professor 
Herrman, asking him to consider me as a leader for the thea- 
tre. I very soon received a note from his manager, telling me 
to meet him. The result was all I could wish for. For I was 
engaged to furnish nine men and to be ready for the first 
rehearsal two weeks hence. Two days afterward, and just 
as I was at the stage of engaging the musicians, I was called 
again to the manager's office and told that he, the manager, 
was forced to cancel my engagement, that a relative of Herr- 
man's who was financially interested in the new theatre had 
a nephew, a violinist, whom he insisted was to be engaged as 
leader. I was nearly broken-hearted over this setback. To 
ease the blow of my evident disappointment, the manager 
said that he would recommend my being engaged as first 
violin under the new leader. A few hours later the latter 
sent for me and I accepted with, I think, rather poor grace. 

Professor Herrman opened the new theatre with his own 
performances which lasted some weeks, during which I 
learned many of the secrets of his "miracles," the marvelous 
accomplishment of his sleight-of-hand. It was, however, fa- 
tiguing and dispiriting work for us in the orchestra, for we 
had to play gallops, marches and waltzes almost continually. 

9 1 

Music Is My Faith 

After Herrman came the engagement with Miss Minnie 
Maddern, later Mrs. Fiske. At that time she was singing in 
light opera, and it was fun to play in her presence she was 
so charming and so gay. 



AFTER the holidays there 

came an English company playing a comedy, All the Com- 
forts of Home, with William Faversham, a young, handsome 
Englishman who immediately made a noteworthy success. 
When we met beneath the stage I was delighted to feel that 
he liked me. After the first act of the play on the opening 
night I played a solo, standing up in the orchestra pit, and 
at the close was surprised to receive long and enthusiastic 
applause. Several of the men in the orchestra told me after- 
wards that Walter Damrosch, sitting in a box with some 
friends, applauded most heartily and seemed much inter- 
ested. I had not seen him myself. The orchestra men said 
that Damrosch was engaging men for the permanent orches- 
tra of the Symphony Society which his father had founded, 
and that Andrew Carnegie had built Carnegie Hall for Wal- 
ter Damrosch whom he so admired. All this failed to excite 
me for it held no hope for me. I had borne too many disap- 
pointments. I went home feeling that I had caught a glimpse 
of a world, a star that had gleamed for an instant but whose 


Music Is My Faith 

light was not meant for me. I told no one of the night's ex- 

The next morning early, my father, through the speaking- 
tube from the store below, said excitedly that a Mr. Kayser, 
Mr. Damrosch's orchestra manager, had come to see me. In 
my wonderment I went down the three flights of stairs as if 
in a dream. Mr. Kayser said that Mr. Damrosch had heard 
me play at the theatre on the previous night and would like 
me to come to his office at the Metropolitan Opera House 
the following day, and that I was to bring my violin. 

It is difficult to tell of the joy which came to our house- 
hold. It was an extraordinary event. I alone was silent and 
troubled, for I felt certain that at a second hearing, which 
was also to be an examination, I should be found wanting 
and inefficient. Had I my greatest disappointment to bear? 
Would it not have been better never to have had such a 
chance, to have stayed in the little theatre rather than bear 
the danger of being discarded? Such a disgrace I could never 
endure. It was now or never. I could not eat or sleep until 
this issue was irrevocably determined. It was to be either the 
last disappointment or the means of salvation. 

I went to Mr. Damrosch the following day. In the waiting- 
room while I unpacked my violin I listened to such playing 
on the piano that I was rooted to the spot in amazement at 
its freedom and beauty. As Mr. Kayser opened the door, 
the flood of sound greeted me with the picture of young 
Walter Damrosch at the piano. He turned to me with a smile 
and greeted me with kindliness, and asked a few questions. 


Enter Walter Damrosch 

Where had I studied? Who were my teachers? And where 
had I played? My answers were modest enough and the re- 
cital of my career anything but imposing. 

I had brought much music, and he chose several pieces for 
me to play. He accompanied me, sitting easily at the piano 
watching me most of the time. At last he said, "Why did you 
not come to me before?" I said that I thought I wasn't good 
enough. "Kayser," he called through the open door, "make 
out a contract for David Mannes, as a first violin at thirty- 
five dollars a week and for the season of forty weeks." While 
this was being done Mr. Damrosch said that Carnegie Hall 
was to be dedicated in the spring and that Tschaikowsky was 
to conduct his symphony at the initial concert. Would I 
care to play? 

To run home and show that marvelous sheet of paper 
signed "Walter Damrosch," with "David Mannes" under- 
neath, the coupling of that famous name with mine that 
meant so little! My parents and my brothers saw at once the 
difference that contract would make in my life, and for the 
first time in all those years realized that, after all, I had done 
well to have kept on, that further development must surely 
ensue which would bring me to the top whatever that 
meant. Mother's joy had an added flavor, the proving of her 
prophecies, the entire fulfillment of the dream. The son of 
the man she had adored had sought me out and placed me 
among the highest. She cared not about the salary or its con- 
ditions; her romance it was, and always continued to be. 




the counsel of the 
family I decided to forego playing the opening concert un- 
der Tschaikowsky. I sought out Mr. Damrosch again for 
advice; since he had placed such trust in me it was only fit- 
ting, I thought, that I should do everything not to betray it 
by lack of further development. I told him I wished to sail 
immediately for Europe and begged for counsel as to whom 
I should go to for study, and would he give me a letter of 
introduction? He chose Carl Halir, famous soloist, a Bo- 
hemian by birth, the leader of his own string quartet and 
assistant to Joachim as professor of violin at the Hochschule. 
Mr. Damrosch gave me the letter written in warm and serious 
praise of my talent. 

On my arrival in Berlin I immediately called upon Pro- 
fessor Halir, and in fear and deep humility approached the 
great man in his apartment. He greeted me with a disarm- 
ing kindness, read the letter introducing me, and said that 
he had expected me. Mr. Damrosch had written directly to 
him of my coming. 

David MMWICS, Violinist 

I Study 'with Halir 

My lessons I was to pay twenty marks for each began 
the next day; and I was thrilled with my initial experience. 
I had two lessons weekly until the middle of July, when I 
followed the professor to Albeck, a bathing resort on the 
Baltic. My money was fast giving out, so I must be content 
with only one lesson a week. Every place where I inquired 
was too expensive. At last, in a poorer part of the little town 
away from the sea in a tiny house, I settled on a small room 
looking out on a paved court, with a water-pump in the 
middle of it the only plumbing in the neighborhood. The 
whole place smelt of smoked fish; when I arrived to take 
possession I discovered that one side of the quadrangle form- 
ing this court was devoted to the business of drying and 
smoking small flounders. Everything became impregnated 
with this odor. I lived in it for six weeks. Ever since then 
the smell of smoked fish brings back to me that tiny room 
of mine with its sloping roof and the dormer-window. In 
standing up to practice I had to place myself under the peak 
of the roof in order to gain sufficient bow-room! 

Two other lodgers occupied a room next mine. They were 
men, track-walkers on the railroad, rough-looking but good- 
natured fellows. I worked very hard, the professor had given 
me a stiff program to prepare, and I allowed myself little 
time for recreation. So much to accomplish in so short a 
time! One day everything would go swimmingly and I 
would be happy and content; the next day nothing would 
go at all. Exhaustion, gloomy thoughts, lack of confidence 
followed each other, merging into bitter self-condemnation* 


Music Is My Faith 

Why was it that the same person, in the same attitude, of 
the same mental and physical combination should all at once 
lose his sound, and the co-ordination of brain and fingers? 
God knows I worked hard enough. It seemed at such times 
that I dropped back years in a development I had hoped 
would be a steady one onward. Then there would be short 
periods of great elation, when I could almost shout and 
jump about with the abandon and the joy of living. My mu- 
sic had come back to me; that was sufficient. I wanted noth- 
ing else. 

I did not know until years afterwards that my method of 
practice had been completely wrong, and often wondered 
why, during the lessons, the teachers hadn't directed the 
proper mode and manner of study. To be told to practice 
slowly is manifestly not enough. The question involved is a 
serious one. I might have been saved much suffering and de- 
lay had I been so trained. However, I was to find out these 
things by myself with some profit to others who suffered 
from the same serious handicap. 

My teacher seemed pleased with me, though, and encour- 
aged and stimulated by the thought of sitting in that splen- 
did orchestra on the stage of the new Carnegie Hall, I sailed 
for home and arrived one week before the date set for the 
first rehearsal. 



1 WAS placed on the fifth 

stand with a young and attractive-looking violinist. We were 
among the very few native-born Americans in the orchestra, 
a large one at that time; eighty men, among whom were a 
number of world-famous soloists, Adolf Brodsky, the con- 
certmaster, and Jules Conus, second concertmaster; and di- 
rectly behind them, Jan Koert who had been second con- 
certmaster of the Bilse Orchestra at Ostend (sitting next to 
Ysaye when both were young men) and Maitret, a young 
Premier Prix of the Paris Conservatoire. Then came two 
stands of four of the best-known violinists in New York at 
that time. Then Hoffman and myself, and back of us well- 
experienced violinists numbering in all fourteen first violins. 
Ottokar Novacek, the composer, a fascinating personality, 
led the violas with great distinction. Anton Hekking, brilliant 
artist and a most erratic man, sat at the head of the 'cellists. 
With the exception of the Boston Orchestra, then conducted 
by Arthur Nikisch, the New York Symphony Orchestra 
was the finest orchestra in the country, and the best by far 


Music Is My Faith 

of any symphonic band New York had ever possessed for 
its own. The personnel in the woodwind and brass compared 
most favorably in excellence with the string body. 

We were all seated when Mr. Damrosch punctually as- 
cended the conductor's platform, making a short speech in 
finest German that being the orchestra tongue in those days 
at the end of which he told us we were to rehearse our first 
program, the principal number of which was the Fifth Sym- 
phony of Beethoven. 

Although I had never played a symphony except those by 
Haydn, excerpts of which, arranged for piano and violin, I 
had given at my summer hotel engagements, I did rather well 
with Beethoven, for my previous experience had helped me 
very much in reading at sight. But as the rehearsals went on 
and included parts of the Wagner music dramas, such as the 
Walkueren Ritt, Wotan's Abschied and Feuerzauber, I be- 
came hopelessly confused and practically useless. Why my 
helplessness wasn't discovered I could not imagine; to my 
relief even my companion did not seem to notice my be- 
wilderment. Everyone among the first violins seemed to play 
those fearful passages in the Ride of the Valkyries and the 
Magic Fire Music with ease and competence. We played 
more and more Wagner, and the more we played the more 
I became depressed. I took my parts home. It was impossible 
to play the passages at the speed the conductor's baton de- 
manded. In desperation I approached one of the older men. 
"I simply can't do those runs and arpeggios," I confessed. 

He laughed and said that no one was able to play all the 


The New York Symphony 

notes, that Wagner insisted always on having eighteen vio- 
lins and the other strings in proportion to the orchestra; that 
the individual players, endeavoring to do the impossible, did 
achieve, with experience, only approximately the technique; 
but that somehow with that number of violins the passages 
sounded perfectly, both to the conductor and audience. Nat- 
urally the players must be experienced. I sat next him at one 
rehearsal, and profiting by his coaching I did better and bet- 
ter, till at last all sense of confusion passed in the playing of 
the music. 

I existed solely for my orchestral experiences, becoming 
more and more acquainted with the great masters, Bach, 
Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms. 
I studied my parts, went early to rehearsals, and with the 
conductor's score on my stand I started reading them, ac- 
quainting and familiarizing myself with the instrumentation, 
realizing with wonder the vast network of that marvelous 
instrument, the symphonic orchestra. I bought the sonatas 
of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms and with my sister tried 
to play them. Little by little I began to understand the mu- 
sic, not only the violin parts but the unity of both instru- 




J\AANY great soloists ap- 
peared with our orchestra, the most distinguished of whom 
was Paderewski, then in his early thirties. His success was 
instantaneous and immense. The force of his personality cre- 
ated an electric atmosphere in the orchestra, infusing every- 
one in it, including our conductor, with an enthusiasm that 
made the music seem to glow with miraculous light. 

Never had I experienced such unanimity in a single glo- 
rious purpose. Especially in the Schumann concerto and in 
the Emperor concerto of Beethoven did I realize the power 
of a human utterance that approached, so it appeared to me, 
divine speech. Beethoven stood revealed as a prophet. The 
milestone of perfect technical instrumental performance had 
been passed and music, relieved of its burden and effort, 
soared on high. What I had simply hoped and prayed for had 
come to pass: the instrument was forgotten, a great inter- 
preter had revealed the master. 

I knew now why I adored music and not the instrument, 


Young Padereivski: Orchestra Tours 

and why it was difficult for me to attain technical mastery. I 
wanted the end at once and was too impatient of slow and 
careful practice, so I revised my work accordingly. 

A few days before Christmas we held our first Messiah 
rehearsal with Frank Damrosch as conductor. I had not met 
him since I had played under him at the Klunder Flower 
Show at the Metropolitan Opera House. The chorus as- 
sembled, and I was stirred by its sound. To hear the greatest 
of all dramas the New Testament I had read and read set 
in perfect musical form, was to me a religious experience. 
The Oratorio seemed to place me as an actor in its tragic 
events, and held me fast until its final denouement, as if the 
story were one of my own time and place. And I forgot that 
I was sitting in the orchestra with the riotous mob of the 
story in full dress and the women in it in the variegated colors 
of evening dress. 

After this, and during every week, the orchestra made 
several short tours to nearby cities Boston, Hartford, New 
Haven, Philadelphia and Washington returning to New 
York in time to play our weekly concerts. Waiting for mid- 
night trains at the station, the men would often sing, and 
very well too, many old German songs, much to the amuse- 
ment of station employees and other waiting travelers. Mai- 
tret led them with his excellent high tenor. Often Mr. Dam- 
rosch joined in in his piercing voice. (You know how it 
carries in any hall or room! ) 

Some of these out-of-town concerts were with the Ora- 
torio Society in Mendelssohn's Elijah and Bach's St. Mat- 


Music Is My Faith 

theirs Passion. Altogether this winter had been another tre-' 
mendous awakening for me, and emotionally so great a tax 
that I scarcely ate, and grew thinner and more emaciated 
every day. I became really alarmed and prayed for strength 
to be able to keep on at what seemed to be a tremendous 




AN Adirondacks engage- 
ment the summer before I had met a charming family, the 
I. Emerson Palmers of Middletown, Connecticut. Often I 
would go for a few days' rest to their lovely home, and in 
that kindly atmosphere recuperate. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer 
were great horse-lovers and under the guidance of a groom 
I learned to ride their beautiful Arabian animals. Of course 
on these visits I always brought my violin with me, and 
played to Mrs. Palmer's accompaniments for their guests, 
and on Sunday mornings in church during the Offertory, 
besides giving young Townsend Palmer lessons. 

In the summertime Mr. Palmer always sent his horses to 
graze on a farm near the tiny city of Vergennes in Vermont. 
He often spoke of that State and of the particular charm of 
Vergennes near Lake Champlain. I decided then to spend 
the summer there, to work out many problems which the 
winter season had presented and which I must, so I thought, 
solve by myself. 


Music Is My Faith 

The hotel at Vergennes was too far from the lake, so I 
settled on a room at Basin Harbor, on the very shores of 
Champlain. It was ideal. Besides an extra room to practice 
in, I had the privilege of using a rowboat and swimming all 
the opportunities for physical exercise which I needed. In 
time I made friends with the people of the countryside, who 
treated me always with deference, for it was noised about 
that I was a great violinist! For Vermont I suppose I was at 
that time, and it did me no harm to be so regarded. 

Among the visitors to Basin Harbor were Mr. and Mrs. 
Van Deusen coming in their small steam yacht, spending 
days, sometimes weeks, anchored in the small harbor at my 
door. Mrs. Van Deusen insisted that I should play a concert 
in Vergennes and one in Burlington, for in both places she 
had many friends. I sent for my sister and with her played 
both concerts, making many friends and enough money to 
pay the extra expense of having Madeleine spend some weeks 
with me. The summer passed happily and I grew physically 
much stronger. 

The next winter was a repetition of the preceding one 
in actual work, and with the gain in assurance I felt more 
and more that I was a worth-while factor in the performance 
of the orchestra. I had been moved up to the fourth stand. 
The learning of new works, lengthening tours to the West, 
to the Chicago Exposition, hearing the most famous artists 
who played with us, opened life to me in greater and greater 
wonder. I had now bought a much better violin, a Vuil- 
laume, costing four hundred dollars. 

1 06 

/ Move Up: Hear Ysaye: and See a Certain Alto's Face 

The following summer was spent in New York City, 
where in Madison Square Garden the orchestra under 
Mr. Damrosch gave popular concerts. The audiences were 
comparatively small, the acoustics as bad as they could be, 
and the venture was neither wise nor successful. Jules Conus 
was concertmaster, Brodsky refusing to play this type of 
concert. Both he and Hekking had gone abroad for the sum- 
mer to spend that time with their families: a fact which I, in 
my excess of devotion to Mr. Damrosch, thought nothing 
short of traitorous! 

I was made unhappy by the critical attitude of the press. 
The critics, most of them, in their loyalty to Theodore 
Thomas during the years of rivalry between Thomas and 
the elder Damrosch, brought their poisoned pens to bear on 
every performance conducted by the younger Damrosch. 
Courageously and with dogged persistence he kept on, and 
became stronger in spite of the press bias. Feeling very bitter 
about it I wondered at the dignity and reserve of so young 
a man, standing alone, bearing such a huge responsibility 
with such grace. The ordinary mob criticized him for this 
very reserve, and called him cold and conceited. I remember 
him in those years with gratitude and admiration, for I 
learned many a lesson from him outside the realm of music. 

It was about this time that under the auspices and protec- 
tion of a very wealthy and charming person, his great friend 
Miss May Callender, an amateur singer and music-lover, Mr. 
Damrosch gave the first of his famous Wagner lectures. 
Seated at the piano, playing and speaking with rare charm, 


Music Is My Faith 

he did more for the true understanding of these great music 
dramas than anyone in America. Miss Callender was also 
vice-president of the Symphony Society, Andrew Carnegie 
being its president. Shortly before that our young conductor 
married Margaret Elaine, the daughter of James G. Elaine, 
Secretary of State in President Harrison's Cabinet. I re- 
member, after a concert in Washington, seeing the Secretary 
of State walking off arm in arm with Mr. Damrosch. I was 
extremely proud of this distinguished connection of our con- 

The following summer was spent with the orchestra at 
Willow Grove where we played two concerts a day, includ- 
ing Sundays, to large audiences. The grove was built and 
financed by a Philadelphia trolley syndicate to stimulate traf- 
fic for their newly built lines running out of Philadelphia. 
Neither Brodsky nor Hekking came back for the following 
winter season, nor did Novacek, the solo viola. Conus be- 
came concertmaster, and Jan Koert took Novacek's place as 
first viola. I was moved up to third place at the second stand 
and sat behind Conus. On tour Conus became ill and the 
second concertmaster took his place: an excellent artist, but 
suffering frightfully from nerves. He made wrong entrances, 
and in the incidental solo became inaudible. His bow shook 
so in the playing of Handel's Largo and in Saint-Saens' Dance 
Macabre that we feared he might actually faint with fright. 
The next night in Allentown, Pennsylvania, I was asked to 
take the first chair, to my utter consternation! I was a con- 
certmaster if only for one night! But I had always looked 


I Move Up: Hear Ysaye: and See a Certain Alto's Face 

forward to such an opportunity and felt prepared. I was 
much applauded after the obbligati, and Mr. Damrosch 
seemed pleased. 

The following Sunday night in New York, Conus being 
still confined to his room, I again took his place. Marsick, the 
distinguished French violinist, was the soloist. Near the end 
of the program Mr. Damrosch interpolated an extra num- 
ber, the well-worn Largo of Handel. I played it, of course. 
It was wonderful to hear my violin in that great hall packed 
to the walls. It seemed out of all proportion, especially after 
the finished playing of Marsick, for my little effort to re- 
ceive such thunderous applause. I rose and bowed again and 
again, really quite ashamed that I gave so little and received 
so much. 

At the Oratorio rehearsals and concerts I noticed among 
the altos the face of a young, beautiful and enthusiastic 
woman. I was strangely attracted by her regular and aristo- 
cratic features. She rarely looked at her score, her attention 
being directed instantly and always devotedly to the con- 
ductor's face. Singing with assurance born of thorough 
knowledge of the music, she seemed to stand apart from the 
others. I looked forward to every Oratorio rehearsal and 
was disappointed when she was absent. 

The months went by, concert following concert. I was 
becoming a routineer so far as orchestral playing was con- 
cerned, and by myself studied much solo music, for there 
seemed no one with whom I wanted to work. 

The event of the winter was the coming of the greatest 


Music Is My Faith 

of all living violinists, Eugene Ysaye. At the rehearsal of the 
B flat concerto of Saint-Saens, and during his first concert 
here, I realized that this man was the master I had waited 
for. Like Paderewski, the individual spoke. Here indeed was 
the poet. His passages played at lightning speed always had 
expressive meaning, and the flow of his bow in the exquisite 
nuances moved on like smooth water, never static, always 
sure in direction. He made a sensational success and was the 
talk of the town. 

I had made up my mind that some day I would beg him 
to teach me, for how could anyone be satisfied with less? It 
was the revelation that I had always prayed for. This was, to 
me, the way music ought to sound: not bar after bar in 
meticulous man-made time, but the rhythm of changing 
form. It was the great poetry in the language of sound. The 
real prophet had come and his vision was to remain mine for- 

Eugene Ysaye was then in the prime of his manhood, about 
forty years of age. Ysaye and Paderewski these were my 
ideals. Neither of them could be a teacher in the ordinary 
sense; the only way to learn from them was to listen, to share 
the music that flowed beneath their magic fingers, to wonder 
at the ineffable beauty of their vision. Theirs was not the 
expression of technique but the technique of expression. 

A fortunate circumstance now came to pass which gave 
me pleasure and encouragement. Mr. Wade Chance, assistant 
manager of Carnegie Hall, sent for me one evening asking 
me to bring my violin. On arriving I was introduced to two 


I Move Up: Hear Ysaye: and See a Certain Alto's Face 

young men, Howard Brockway, pianist and composer, and 
Ralph Pulitzer, son of the famous journalist and editor of the 
New York World. I was at once attracted to the bright and 
charming personality of Brockway, who appeared to be of 
my own age. Brockway was to play his own sonata that 
evening with the violinist Louis von Gaertner, pupil of 
Joachim. Von Gaertner at the eleventh hour had sent word 
it was impossible for him to play. Thereupon Mr. Chance, 
who had noticed me in the orchestra and had come back- 
stage on that memorable Sunday night concert when I ap- 
peared as temporary concertmaster, felt that I might do as 
von Gaertner's substitute. I read the sonata much to the ap- 
parent pleasure of Mr. Brockway, and then and there began 
a friendship that has lasted these many years. And shortly 
afterwards we planned to play together in public the follow- 
ing season. 




UURING the last few years I 

had not lost sight of the Rangers, and played very often with 
Mr. Ranger on Sunday nights at his studio, where many of 
his artist friends continued to gather to talk pictures and eat 
the very good food laid out for them. Mr. Ranger told me 
that he had found the ideal place to work in the summer, a 
French habitant village at Berthier-en-haut, now called 
Berthierville, forty-five miles downstream on the St. Law- 
rence from Montreal. 

I decided to go with Mr. and Mrs. Ranger since I must 
have an inexpensive summer. I had made a firm resolve to 
save so that I might make another journey to Europe for 

We lived on the main street running parallel to the river 
at a tiny native hotel, kept by a French habitant, for the sum 
of five dollars a week. The accommodations were primitive 
and the food was very poor. We hadn't been there a week 
when Monsieur St. Cyr, the hotelkeeper, came to Mr. Ranger 
and said that a wonderful French cook had come to him ask- 


Adventure in Canada 

ing for employment. Could he add a small weekly sum to 
our little bills in order to pay the higher wages of such a 
culinary artist? The cook was engaged, and from then on 
every meal became an alluring adventure. 

Mr. Ranger had hired a "studio," an old tumbledown 
shack partly supported on piles in the river's bed, which 
looked dangerously ready to slide into the river at any mo- 
ment. It cost us five dollars a month. It had not been occupied 
for years. We spent days cleaning it up, throwing the rub- 
bish into the river from the window. Mr. Ranger painted on 
the bottom floor, I practiced over his head on the floor above. 

We made the acquaintance of a Swiss family who con- 
ducted a private French school for girls. They were Mother 
Clements, her two daughters, a son, and her sister, Miss 
Amaron, who at the present time is still living at Berthier- 
ville. Until recent years I have had a glimpse of that lovely 
old face on her yearly trips south to escape the rigor of 
a Canadian winter. Never had anyone such dear, devoted 
friends as they became to me. (I blush to say that because 
my black hair was rather long and naturally wavy, they per- 
sisted in calling me "Davy Wavy.") We often played there 
evenings, the music always being accompanied by shrieks 
of delight from these sensitive and emotional ladies. 

It is such a sweet memory to me! A Du Maurier might 
sketch the charm of that old home with its air of illusion; a 
less sensitive pen would fail utterly. 

At the end of August we all went to Quebec to visit 
our old friends the Fairchilds, who lived seven miles up 

Music Is My Faith 

the river, high above the stream on the Plains of Abraham 
at Cap Rouge. In the evenings I played. One of these 
nights young Mr. James Cowie, surveyor for the Cana- 
dian government, appeared. He adored music and we be- 
came friends. And one day at Cap Rouge I spent on board 
the government steamer of which he was chief, employed in 
charting the floor of the great river. Another day we visited 
the huge rafts from the Upper Ottawa lying in the cove 
below, brought there for sale. We ate with the crew, who 
showed us their sleeping quarters large dog-houses into 
which they went feet first, lying with their heads in the open. 

Fifteen years afterwards when James Cowie was Sur- 
veyor General of Quebec we met in Montreal. He took 
from his wallet the frayed fragment of a violin E string. He 
told me that on the first night he heard me play he picked 
up from the floor in the Fairchild home a broken violin 
string that I had thrown aside. 

The climax of our visit was a hunting- and fishing-trip 
to the Lakes of Tantary, north of Quebec and quite in the 
forested wilderness. Stopping at Valcartier, the old Fairchild 
home, to assemble the camping outfit, we drove north in a 
large buckboard Mr. Fairchild, his father, Mr. Ranger and 
myself to the guides' home, together with the brothers 
Murphy, half-breed Indian guides. They seemed to be more 
Irish than Indian, and had trapped for fur since their youth 
from Quebec to Lake St. John. Both had settled in the edge 
of the forest, and had married Irish girls, ft was the most 
primitive living, but the children seemed healthy and happy. 


Adventure in Canada 

We had their midday meal with them such good homely 
fare; but we had to leave soon after in order to reach camp 
before nightfall. So, with grumbling, we submitted to being 
loaded with our packs and set out. Of the three days in camp 
it rained half the time, but the huge fire was kept roaring in 
front of our tent door. We caught more than enough trout, 
which were broiled and served on birchbark. 

It was a new and delightful experience for me, not the 
least of which was the companionship of these stalwart and 
forest-wise guides. One of them, in chopping kindling wood 
the previous winter, partly severed two fingers of his left 
hand. He looked at his injured hand, quickly judged that 
those fingers could never be whole or useful again, and 
calmly finished the job with his hatchet, losing the fingers. 
He told this incident as simply as if he had been whittling a 
stick. With but the most meager means at their command, 
with so little of the world's goods, they both gave me pres- 
ents of various quaint things of their own making. I loved 
these simple and warm-hearted men and was sad at leaving 
them. They taught me more in those three days than they 

Back at Cap Rouge I soon made the acquaintance of the 
little French cure in the village. (When in later years I met 
Pablo Casals I remembered this delightful priest; they re- 
sembled each other so closely.) "Monsieur le Cure" played 
on the harmonium, accompanying me in many a hymn and 
simple melody. He asked me to come with him and play for 
the nuns at the Convent, in the chapel, which I did. 


Music Is My Faith 

Behind a tall screen, invisible, were the nuns. Presently, 
timidly at first, they sang with us in their fresh young voices. 
I was moved by this experience, and vaguely stirred by these 
unseen singers who had to live immured and separated from 
the bright world outside. I never saw the cure again, but he 
too lives in memory as one of the sweetest souls I have ever 
known. My violin, as usual, was the open sesame that had 
unlocked so many doors and allowed me to see vistas of 
haunting beauty. 




1 RETURNED to New York in 

time for the rehearsals, to find that there had been many 
changes. Brodsky had been appointed head of the College of 
Music in Birmingham, England. Jules Conus had gone back 
to St. Petersburg in order to devote himself to composition. 
Novacek had also returned home. Both he and Hekking 
found orchestra-playing irksome. Hekking was to tour 
Europe as soloist. 

During the summer in Europe Mr. Damrosch had engaged 
Anton Hegner, the Scandinavian 'cellist, to take Hekking's 
place. Mr. Hegner came to New York a few weeks after the 
opening of the season. According to the by-laws of the 
Musical Union, a player wishing to join the union had to 
prove that he had been six months in the country. This was 
absolutely necessary before he could take a place in a pro- 
fessional organization. Mr. Damrosch knew this but hoped 
for a special dispensation allowing Hegner to play with us. 
This the union refused to give, and warned the members of 
our orchestra that we were liable to a fine for playing a con- 


Music Is My Faith 

cert with Mr. Hegner in the orchestra, and, at a repetition 
of this "offense," to expulsion from the union. This latter 
penalty made it impossible for any orchestral player so pro- 
scribed to earn his living in the United States. 

Mr. Damrosch insisted that Mr. Hegner should play at 
the next Sunday concert. The union refused to give permis- 
sion. The evening of the concert came. When we were 
seated Mr. Hegner took his place. Not a sign of disturbance 
appeared, but the men looked pale and worried. The open- 
ing number was the overture to Phedre, by Massenet, the 
first bars of which are played by the brass. Mr. Damrosch's 
stick descended. Not a sound. The tension was frightening. 
The conductor pleaded with the men, begging them to help 
him in what he considered a rightful cause. At such a mo- 
ment one forgot the audience, what they felt or what they 
were doing about it all. I do remember hearing shouts of 
"Shame," "Shame," and a few of us felt like despised and 
hopelessly mean criminals. The baton again descended. 
Silence and absolute stillness. Mr. Damrosch turned to the 
audience, telling them that he and they were the victims of 
a strike, that they would have the money refunded. He 
begged them to leave. 

Mr. Damrosch rushed off the stage. A few of us followed 
him to his room, to assure him of our loyalty. We said we 
would play for him under any conditions, even if it meant 
our being put out of the union. Coming to the door of his 
room we stepped in to find him weeping bitterly. 

The schedule of concerts nevertheless had to be followed, 


My First Strike 

and of course without Mr. Hegner for some time. I believe 
that the union made some compromise finally, and Hegner 
played with us as a member of the union for a season or two. 

Jan Koert was moved from first viola to the concert- 
master's seat and I was to be tried out as second concert- 
master. Mr. Damrosch had given up his work as conductor 
of the Oratorio Society, placing his brother Frank in his 

The work of the orchestra went on. As second concert- 
master I now felt more at ease and enjoyed immensely the 
responsibility of that position. Jan Koert was very kind and 
helpful. As concertmaster he proved himself an experienced 
leader of the first violins, though he was never a distinguished 
player. It is comparatively easy to sit next to such a man and 
play with confidence. At one rehearsal Koert was absent and 
naturally I was asked to take his place. We were reading 
some new excerpts of Mr. Damrosch's arrangement from 
the Gotterdammerung) and, being very nervous, sitting in 
such a responsible place, I made a poor showing and was 
relieved at the return of the concertmaster at the next re- 
hearsal. Another lesson. This must not happen again. After 
that I made sure ahead of time of what was planned for 




Christmas time the or- 
chestra rehearsed with the Oratorio Society. I looked for- 
ward to these rehearsals with a new interest, for I anticipated 
seeing the attractive alto in the chorus again. She was there; 
I saw Jan Koert talking to her before the rehearsal. I asked 
him when we were seated together who the lady was. 
"Didn't you know that she is Clara Damrosch, sister of 
Walter and Frank?" he said. It was some rime afterwards, 
meeting a young painter at the Rangers' and hearing him tell 
someone that he knew Miss Damrosch, that I found the way 
of approach to her. I called on Mr. Orrin Parsons, the young 
painter, and asked him if he could present me to Miss Dam- 
rosch. He said he would with pleasure. He was meeting her 
that very day, they both belonged to a sketching class (for 
she painted, too) and he would ask permission to bring me to 
see her. 

Late one afternoon we went to her mother's apartment, 
at 327 Amsterdam Avenue, and I was presented to Mrs. 
Damrosch and her sister, Miss von Heimburg. To say that 


Enter Clara Damrosch 

I was appalled and sat on the edge of a three-cornered chair 
well-nigh speechless is no exaggeration. I shall always re- 
member that curiously shaped three-cornered chair. 

To think that I was face to face with the widow of Leo- 
pold Damrosch, the mother of Walter and Frank and of 
the girl I had admired in the Oratorio Chorus this over- 
powered me. 

Mrs. Damrosch impressed me as a strong and majestic 
personality. I saw now that her son Walter resembled 
her greatly the same pure, strong features, as if chiseled 
out of marble. Her reception of me was kindly but rather 
chillingly impersonal, whereas on the other hand the charm 
and lovely smile of her beautiful sister, Miss von Heim- 
burg, and her helpful remarks about seeing me in the 
orchestra and noticing with pleasure the enthusiasm of my 
attitude to the conductor's beat, made me feel a trifle easier. 
She told me that her niece was expected home soon; she 
taught the piano, I learned, and was very much occupied 
with her work nearly every day in the week. I wanted to 
see her so much, and I wanted so much to run away before 
she arrived that I was truly miserable! At last she arrived, 
with a spring of step and the joy of living in her face, as if 
she had been having lots of fun instead of teaching four or 
five hours that day, or perhaps more. 

That Miss Damrosch was very much amused at my com- 
ing, at my diffidence and embarrassment, was evident. How- 
ever, "you must come and play with me some time," she 
said. I had been so conscious of myself in this exciting hour 


Music Is My Faith 

that I never noticed Mr. Parsons' departure some time before 
my own. 

I lost no time in taking advantage of Miss Damrosch's 
invitation to play sonatas with her. I felt that my playing did 
not commend itself or myself to her. She seemed sure of her 
instrument and knew the score perfectly, while I felt miser- 
ably inadequate and undeveloped. She played often with 
Geraldine Morgan, her friend, a pupil of Joachim. In com- 
parison my playing must have seemed labored and crude. 
Miss Morgan was a finished performer, a fine musician, and 
had come over with Joachim's high endorsement and pro- 
tection. It was said that she was his favorite pupil at that 

At all events I felt a new ambition, a new goal, far off 
but in sight. I had come in personal contact with the family 
I had revered all those years and was stirred by an emotion 
I had never had before. Was it Miss Damrosch who made 
all that difference? 

I had always felt the responsibility for my sister's educa- 
tion. I wanted her to experience some of the life I was lead- 
ing. She was the only one at home to whom I could talk on 
musical matters. I wanted her to have the guidance and in- 
fluence of just such a personality as that of Miss Damrosch, 
whom I asked to teach her. The arrangements were made 
and I paid for the lessons by checks, for I had now a modest 
bank account. My sister adored her teacher, every lesson 
becoming an event for me also, for it meant hearing from 


Enter Clara Damrosch 

Madeleine interesting and intriguing details about the one 
who occupied my thoughts persistently. 

I went to the Oratorio rehearsals and concerts with in- 
creased anticipation and felt myself favored when I could 
bow to that alto and have it acknowledged with such a 
charming smile. What was it all leading to? I was conscious 
of a new worry and a new and tremendous responsibility. 
Was I never to know peace or tranquillity? How could I 
possibly measure up to that family of tradition and breeding? 
I knew hours and days of hopelessness, keenly realizing the 
lack of education and my own ill-directed study, brooding 
constantly on years misspent in ignorance and the lack of 
preparation for a calling that required the best that only a 
well-trained man could give. But to create a past as well as 
a future was humanly impossible. Then Lincoln, Abraham 
Lincoln, came to my assistance. He created greatness out of 
nothing. I could only try. I loved reading about him again. 
It was a great and invigorating help. His picture was always 
with me, his complete inner and outer portrait. 

Self -centered though I was, my interests were too broad 
to make a good specialist. Medicine, mechanics, philosophy, 
literature, and above all a keen human interest, all jumbled 
up in kaleidoscopic chaos without the fixation of a definite 
pattern, confused me, weakened all my convictions except 
an unshakable faith in the progress of mankind in which I 
hoped so devoutly I might help. I am sure that Clara Dam- 
rosch was the starting point of a new phase in my existence. 

I2 3 



NOW became very busy, for 
in addition to my regular work I was to have pupils. What 
I did not know was that a dream-fulfillment was soon to be 

I had been asked to conduct a children's orchestra at the 
home of Mrs. Clarence C. Rice at 8 1 Irving Place. In a few 
months this little string orchestra grew to the number of 
sixteen players, boys and girls, the eldest of whom were 
fourteen years of age. It was hard work, for not only were 
the rehearsals fatiguing, but I practiced with each child 
individually. In time most of them became my pupils; and 
in their lessons were incorporated the reading, bowing and 
fingering of their parts in the orchestra. For about six years 
this orchestra rehearsed weekly in the dining-room at Dr. 
Rice's. At these rehearsals there were always visitors, parents 
and friends of the players, and soon little concerts followed 
at charming houses. These won for themselves most favor- 
able comment. 

One day an older sister of one of these little violinists, Miss 


The Birth of the Settlement 

Florence Wardwell, asked me to accompany her to a music 
class, situated in a dingy house on Rivington Street on the 
lower East Side. There I met Miss Wagner, a young woman 
who had started teaching the children in this most sordid 
and filthy neighborhood. Some of these children paid ten 
cents for their lessons on either the piano or violin. This 
work started in the basement of a church and no rental 
was asked as it was considered a charitable venture. The 
little school could not possibly support itself on its neces- 
sarily low fees, and a small committee was formed to seek 
funds to cover the deficit. 

I immediately saw wonderful opportunities to put into 
actual practice a dream I had had ever since my years at 
public school, when we schoolboys had enthusiastically re- 
sponded to the call of "Professor" Benjamin, whose "free" 
violin lessons proved such a depressing and sordid com- 
mercial venture. At that time I had promised myself that 
some day I would send out such a call, based on the desire 
to extend to poor children the means of learning music 
through the instrument of their choice in surroundings that 
were beautiful and an environment that would be stimulat- 
ing. I would discourage mediocre professionalism and teach 
music as a means to spiritual enlightenment. 

Here in Miss Wagner's small class of children, in its en- 
thusiastic committee, lay the beginnings of such a grand 

I began teaching a small class of little violin players, most 
of them without musical experience, and very few of them 


Music Is My Faith 

showing any particular talent. What they all had, however, 
was enthusiasm and the capacity for work. Donations of 
sheet music and violins were sought and found, but never in 
sufficient quantity to meet the increasing demands of new 
applicants for lessons. Very often there existed only one 
violin for two or three pupils. Besides Miss Wagner, who 
taught both violin and piano and gave all her time and 
strength for a small salary, guaranteed by the committee, 
there were two volunteer teachers who generously devoted 
several hours a week to the cause. Among these volunteer 
teachers was Angela Diller. 

Small ensemble groups were formed and out of these an 
orchestra of strings and one piano. The piano was eliminated 
shortly, and a real string orchestra, with one viola and one 
'cello, started its notable career. 

I also took charge of this body of youngsters at the Col- 
lege Settlement nearby in Rivington Street, meeting every 
Sunday morning at ten and rehearsing until half -past twelve. 
I interested many of my friends and went about telling them 
to come and see what we were doing, feeling sure of their 
appreciation and financial help. The school grew rapidly, 
and on account of our cramped quarters and lack of instru- 
ments a waiting list was forming. The lesson fees were then 
raised to twenty-five cents, making it necessary to secure a 
scholarship fund so that no child should be refused entrance 
into the school for lack of payment. Most of the children 
were Russian Jews. Their parents, reading no other language 


The Birth of the Settlement 

than Yiddish, supported their families by working in sweat- 
shops of the worst kind. 

I visited the homes of some of my pupils to find appalling 
living conditions and lack of nourishing food. Much illness 
was due to the absence of simple hygienic safeguards, and 
easily preventable had there not been such deep ignorance 
and superstition. 

But it was Miss Wagner who, besides teaching, gave her 
entire life to this work, while I, on account of my busy life 
elsewhere, could only devote hours where I wanted to give 
days. There was little time outside my position in the Sym- 
phony Orchestra, with four or five rehearsals a week and as 
many concerts including tours; and I was now a busy teacher 
as well as conducting the children's orchestra at Mrs. Rice's. 

I tried not to lose sight of my friends, the Rangers; and 
then Brockway and I often played together at various 
houses, chief of which was the Trevor Parks' on Madison 
Avenue on Sunday nights. Mrs. Park was a talented and 
attractive young woman, an excellent violinist and pianist. 
At her house one always met many of the visiting artists and 





started giving Wagner concerts with orchestra and singers 
in excerpts from all the music dramas. They were most suc- 
cessful. With this response from the public (the critics still 
seemed bent on hounding him in every venture) he planned 
an opera season for the following winter, giving German 
opera in German with artists brought from Europe. This 
seemed to everyone a most hazardous venture, and financial 
backing because of this was not to be secured. I heard later 
that he alone assumed this tremendous burden, thereby 
putting his entire resources, it seemed most surely, in jeop- 
ardy. Later on we shall see how everyone but Walter 
Damrosch was mistaken. 

At every concert I covertly looked for the appearance of 
the conductor's sister in the box always reserved for the 
family, and was invariably rewarded, for besides Mrs. Dam- 
rosch and her sister, Miss von Heimburg, there was the face 
I was looking for. 

Then very often at Reisenweber's beer restaurant, on 
Eighth Avenue and Fifty-sixth Street, at a distant table I 


The Damrosch Dynasty 

would sit watching this family group, with the conductor 
himself, who seemed always in the best of spirits, his high 
and piercing voice clearly audible to everyone in the place. 
I never left the restaurant while they were there. Walter 
Damrosch's high good humor was electric and seemed to 
pervade the establishment. He was at that time my hero 
without question. 

As the season drew to a close I was determined to spend 
the summer abroad and study with my teacher, Halir, again. 
My bank account was then sufficient to make this possible, 
and I began to make plans. Brockway was going to Berlin in 
order to be with his teacher Mr. O. B. Boise, and it was 
arranged that we should sail together. This was decided on 
the evening when we gave our joint recital at Mrs. Spencer 
Trask's house in which I again played my friend's sonata 
with him. (Mrs. Trask, in flowing white, sat on a raised dais 
at the end of the salon, receiving her guests in something like 
regal state.) But, shortly after, when talking to Frank Dam- 
rosch after an Oratorio concert he told me that he and his 
wife, his aunt and his sister Clara were sailing in the late 
spring on the "Friedrich der Grosse" of the Hamburg- 
American Line. I went the next day to the steamship office 
and engaged passage on the same steamer. Gone was the 
idea of crossing with Howard Brockway. I had the chance 
to see Clara Damrosch at close quarters for ten days! 

A few weeks of the season still remained, and an out- 
standing and unusual concert took place a choral concert 
by the People's Choral Union, assisted by our orchestra. 


Music Is My Faith 

This organization was founded by Frank Damrosch and 
began with a small body of devoted singers and lovers of 
music among hard-working wage-earners. Such was its 
appeal to these people that applicants came by the hundreds 
and it became necessary to form various branches. Rehears- 
als cost the members only ten cents, this money being used 
to defray the cost of music. To this noble work Mr. Dam- 
rosch dedicated his Sunday afternoons for over twenty 
years without a cent of remuneration. Everybody in the 
large audience at this concert was deeply impressed by the 
verve, enthusiasm and rhythmic cohesion of this large 

Frank Damrosch also conducted the Mendelssohn Glee 
Club of New York and the Orpheus Glee Club of Phila- 
delphia, the Oratorio Society of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 
besides the Oratorio Society of New York. 

The present generation cannot possibly appreciate the 
wonderful influence that the father and his two sons brought 
to bear on all that was fine in the cause of music in this coun- 
try. They were the true pioneers in this field. That which 
has come since is largely the outcome of their energy and 

It is no wonder that I stood in awe of this family, feeling 
small and unworthy in their presence. It was a wonderful 
time for me, for it gave me a standard and a living point of 
emulation. The father, Leopold Damrosch, had no musical 
background (that fact alone was a great cause of encourage- 
ment to me) yet he created with fine craftsmanship an im- 


The Damrosch Dynasty 

posing artistic edifice in which his family now spiritually 
lived and had its being. 

Dr. Damrosch had evidently from his childhood been 
passionately in love with music. In his youth his father would 
not allow him to view his talent as a possible professional 
career, but insisted that he study medicine. To this the young 
Leopold finally agreed, but maintained his resolve that he 
would also keep on with his music. He finally graduated 
from The Literary University of Friedrich Wilhelm (now 
the University of Berlin) as Doctor of Medicine, presenting 
his thesis on "The Heat of the Human Body," a paper that 
created a strong impression and still remains in the archives 
of that institution. 

Immediately after his graduation he refused to go into 
medical practice. He could not bear the sight of human blood 
nor that of human suffering. He henceforth devoted his life 
completely to the cause of music. 

A few years later as concertmaster of the opera orchestra 
at Weimar he fell in love with and married a beautiful young 
singer, Helene von Heimburg, tall and regal in stature, and 
possessing a very fine mezzo-soprano voice. (You see the 
strange parallel, don't youyour mother singing and I a 
concertmaster? ) She had been singing among other roles, in 
Weimar and elsewhere, Ortrud in Lohengrin; and was then 
the second one to create that role in Germany. She had 
studied the part with Liszt, and it was for this master, who 
was godfather, that they named their first-born Franz (Frank 

Music Is My Faith 

To the career of a solo violinist, Dr. Damrosch added that 
of a conductor, giving orchestral and choral concerts. And 
soon he developed into a prolific composer. He was on the 
point of accepting a position as conductor in Vienna when 
he decided instead to choose the offer of the Arion Society 
of New York to have him conduct the Mannerchor of that 

From that time onwards his activities developed greatly. 
He founded the Symphony Society of New York, which 
he conducted, and appeared often as solo violinist. Then the 
Oratorio Society. Besides all this he traveled with his or- 
chestra all over the United States, in those days a huge and 
precarious undertaking. Finally, the bringing to New York 
of a new and complete German Opera Company and the 
gathering and training of a chorus among the German popu- 
lation of the city in the singing of the Wagner music dramas 
to be produced for the first time in America all this is his 
doing. It is regrettable that up to now there exists no Life of 
this great artist and musical pioneer. 



WHEN it came to leaving my 

mother and my home I always experienced a pull at my 
heart, arid an inner voice prompted me that ambition in itself 
was a lure and would surely end in delusion. Why should 
I leave home, the ties of which led so strongly to my own 
being? Why not be satisfied and enjoy life without the 
ceaseless call to duty interfering? I might have heeded this 
voice had I now no new rainbow to chase. So finally I sailed 
on the "Friedrich der Grosse." 

I was given a seat at table among strangers, but just be- 
fore luncheon Mr. Damrosch asked me to sit at his table, 
which was to be placed in a small room outside the main 
dining-room as a special privilege to him and to his family. 
And so I sat between Mrs. Damrosch and Miss von Heim- 
burg, facing Clara Damrosch. Some months later she told me 
that I always looked so thin and green (to match an un- 
fortunate pea-green tie I then wore) that she was in con- 
stant terror of my becoming seasick and intensifying the 
wretchedness of my appearance. I did not become seasick; 


Music Is My Faith 

and during a storm trod the unsteady deck jauntily and 
rather affectedly I dare say-to her great relief. 

/ must here testify, Father, that you have always been the 
fafmly hero at sea. On the many voyages to Europe ive made 
together on big boats and little boats, on good boats and 
bad boats, you were invariably a combination nurse, doctor, 
philosopher, and manager, 'while Mother (for the only times 
in her life reduced to passivity) and I and Tante and the 
governess, and very often even the stoic Leopold, were 
prone in the agony of nausea. 

On the steamer were three girls, all of them musicians: 
Helen Louise Cann, one whose name I have forgotten, and 
Bertha Bucklin. The latter was a charming violinist, facile 
of finger, possessing a beautiful tone. She also was on her 
way to study with Halir. These three, Clara and myself, had 
jolly times on the steamer and planned to meet in Berlin for 
tea, at the restaurant in the Zoological Garden at a certain 
day and hour, Miss Damrosch insisting on being hostess on 
that occasion. 

As soon as I reached Berlin I sought out Howard Brock- 
way at the Boises' on the Kurfiirstenstrasse and came into 
contact with this very charming family of father and mother 
and six girls, the eldest of whom was engaged to Howard. I 
was taken in and treated as a member of the family, Mrs. 
Boise at once securing lodgings for me in the neighborhood, 
a room in a Gartenwohnung. This room I left after one 


Romantic Pursuit 

sleepless night for, not being able to drop into sleep, I turned 
on the light to find huge water bugs on the stone floor and 
hundred-leggers crawling over the walls. 

My lessons started immediately and I began also to study 
harmony with Mr. Boise, a busy teacher with many Ameri- 
can and English pupils. I spent most of my spare rime in the 
congenial atmosphere of the Boise home, where much music 
was being made, and where I was frequently called upon to 
play Howard's sonata with him. 

The tea party at the Zoo took place as arranged. Clara 
Damrosch had planned everything delightfully, reserving a 
table at the rail of a huge balcony overlooking the immense 
crowd listening to the afternoon concert of one of the finest 
regimental bands in the army. At that time Clara Damrosch 
was living in Schandau, near Dresden, but came up every 
two weeks for a lesson with Busoni. Her presence in Berlin 
was one of those occasions. I looked forward to the next one 
when I could see her alone. In the meantime I was meeting 
some very interesting and attractive people at the Boises', 
among whom I remember Ernest Hutcheson, not long out 
of Australia, and Ernest Schelling. Leonora Jackson, the 
brilliant pupil of Joachim, came too. 

Often we went to concerts and the opera, sitting always 
in the gallery on two-mark seats. It was so gay and fasci- 
nating. Weingartner and Muck alternated with each other 
and with Schuch as conductors, and their conducting was 
always inspiring. The concertmaster for the Wagner operas 


Music Is My Faith 

was my teacher Halir. The opera house was often a very 
brilliant sight with the Kaiser and his suite in the Royal Box, 
an imposing guard of a famous regiment of cuirassiers at the 
entrance, and the magnificently uniformed young officers in 
the best seats. 



ABOUT the first of August, 

Halir, who had grown even stouter than last year, decided to 
go to Marienbad for a cure, saying that if Bertha Bucklin and 
I desired lessons he would be glad to teach us there. There 
was no hesitation in accepting his kind proposal. 

I spent the first night in Marienbad in a small hotel and 
during the following morning I tried to find less expensive 
quarters where I could be allowed to practice as long as I 
wanted to. It was quite late in the afternoon when I secured 
a room in a modest quarter of the town. Meals were not 
included in the agreement with the landlady, not even break- 
fast. I moved in, fiddle-box and heavy bag, most of the 
weight of which, however, was music. My possessions were 

The room was long and narrow. In a dim corner was a 
huge featherbed, wide but not long enough to allow stretch- 
ing out at full length. The walls were covered with a dark, 
lugubrious-looking paper, upon which hung dozens of re- 
ligious pictures and cheap wood carvings of the crucified 


Music Is My Faith 

Christ. But there was room enough to walk, which I inces- 
santly did while I practiced. 

Before crawling into bed on the first night I had hung all 
my clothes, including a heavy overcoat, on a tall standing 
coatrack, right by the side of the bedstead, topping this 
collection of wearing apparel with a white shirt. Just before 
dropping off to sleep in this awesome room I was paralyzed 
with fear at seeing a figure fly straight at me, with enor- 
mous arms outstretched as if to clutch my throat. I yelled as 
this monster fell on me. It was the coatrack, of course, the 
outstretched arms being the white shirt. 

The next morning Helen Louise Cann and Bertha Bucklin 
appeared. They were unsuccessful in their search for rooms. 
Marienbad was crowded. I called my landlady. Had she an- 
other room? "No, the house is full, every room taken," she 
said, and then suggested that the two young ladies sleep 
in my room. "But," I said, "where shall I sleep?" "Why, 
in your own bed, of course. I have a large screen and will 
divide your room in two, quite nicely, and everybody will 
be happy." We all screamed with laugher and my friends 
fled with tears running down their faces. My landlady could 
not understand the cause of this unseemly mirth. 

Halir was to remain in Marienbad for four weeks, and I 
had arranged with Clara Damrosch that on my way back to 
Berlin I would stop over at Schandau to see her. I had now 
four weeks in which to do telling work, for I wanted to show 
her how much I had improved in my playing. I set a schedule 
of seven hours a day practice, for I was told this was neces- 

Halir Again: and Marienbad 

sary if one hoped to achieve technical mastery of a difficult 
concerto like the Tschaikowsky which I was studying, not 
to speak of the Beethoven concerto and the Polonaise of 
Wieniawski. I kept to this schedule rigidly. I gradually 
lost what appetite I had, and rarely went out. Naturally I 
became very morose and very homesick and was physically 
and nervously upset. However, I kept doggedly on. Halir 
became alarmed, told me to stop practice completely for a 
few days, and took me out walking, refusing to give me 
another lesson until I was in better condition. All this time 
correspondence between Clara Damrosch and myself grew 
more frequent, which was a great help. 

Marienbad was full of Russian Jews. With their long 
black caftans, or coats, and long untrimmed beards and 
lovelocks, with gaunt, sick-looking faces they walked up 
and down, up and down the path leading to the springs, all 
of them carrying suspended from the waist tin cups which 
they used in drinking the mineral water prescribed for their 
cure. They made a very unpleasant and depressing impres- 

On a late afternoon, reaching "home" after a walk with 
Halir, gloomy and spent with fatigue, I heard in the next 
room to mine a moaning voice, alternately praying and sing- 
ing Hebrew chants, and evidently in physical and psycho- 
logical pain. I took up my violin, playing softly the Kol 
Nidrei which the voice had been singing. Before the close 
of the melody my door was thrust violently open and 
the nightgowned figure of an enormous, bearded and 


Music Is My Faith 

miserable-looking man ran to me, throwing his arms about 
me. "How did you come to play that melody just then? It 
was a message for me, meant for me alone," he said, "it was a 
miracle." He had been ill for some time, confined to his bed 
and very homesick, and knowing no one in Marienbad, had 
prayed for guidance and help. His mind was now made up. 
Would I telegraph to Odessa, his home, saying that he was 
leaving Marienbad the next day? I helped him to make his 
train, for which he was touchingly grateful. 




INox MANY days afterward I 

sent word to Clara Damrosch at Schandau that I was com- 
ing. I never went aboard a train in happier anticipation, and 
on arriving at Schandau was met at the station with a heart- 
warming welcome. Then straight to Frau Zschachlitz' where 
Clara was living and to tea in the garden where a table had 
been laid for two. Those were happy weeks. I had a room 
in the upper part of the house, and whether at Frau Zschach- 
litz' or in the restaurant, Clara and I had our meals together. 
Johannes Schreyer, Clara's former harmony teacher and 
her most devoted friend, came to visit her once or twice. I 
was much impressed with the culture and erudition of this 
splendid man. Great independence and fearlessness were 
characteristic of him on most subjects, particularly on musi- 
cal matters. An indefatigable student of Bach, he was con- 
sidered an expert on the works of the master and ahead of 
his time. He suffered lack of worldly recognition through 
his independence and uncompromising loyalty to the truth 
as he saw it. 


Music Is My Faith 

In the afternoons, for we worked mornings, Clara and I 
had many a walk to nearby places, stopping at some lovely 
spot for coffee. Very often I helped carry her painting 
things, for she sketched with enthusiasm. After one of these 
afternoons, in her room, I proposed to her and was accepted. 
It was only natural that I spent a sleepless night, looking out 
of a tiny skylight placed in the sheer slope of the roof not 
more than a foot over my bed. A dark blue starry sky, so 
serene and quiet, did not prove an effective antidote for my 
racing thoughts. I thought of Clara's wonderful father and 
hoped, with little inner encouragement, that he might look 
upon our union with favor. Oh, I did feel so miserably un- 
worthy. But at breakfast in the bright, sunlit garden with 
Clara's bright eyes shining upon me I could not but feel the 
promise of great things for us both, and the mist of doubt 
passed away. 

We agreed on a holiday from work. A rosy-cheeked, 
middle-aged driver and his rig were engaged to take us to a 
well-known hillside with a wide view of the surrounding 
country. It meant continual and rather hard climbing even 
for two horses. I walked most of the time next the carriage 
talking with Clara, while our very sympathetic driver was on 
the other side encouraging the horses. We finally reached 
the end of our climb to find a charming cafe and garden 
perched on the edge of a tremendously sheer precipice. 

It was a golden afternoon of a beautiful day, and we sat 
long over our cups of coffee and good cake and watched the 
shadows lengthen way down below. The ride home was a 


1 Propose 

jolly affair, the driver regaling us with many humorous re- 
marks in the dialect of the region. We have never forgotten 
him. He helped in his way to make it a memorable day. 

One day we boarded one of the attractive river boats 
bound for Dresden. It was wonderful before sundown to 
sit together on the Briihlsche Terrasse, looking up the river 
colored by the setting sun, crossed by beautiful arched 
bridges. When we came back to Schandau Clara found a 
telegram in answer to hers sent that morning to her closest 
friend, Elizabeth Mosenthal, announcing her engagement. 
The reply was, "If you are sure, pour on the kerosene and 
let her burn." 

"Why do you want to marry me? " Clara asked. "Because 
I am searching," I said, "for the truth," and felt afterwards 
that I had answered rather enigmatically and not to Clara's 
complete satisfaction. I hardly blame her although I know 
now and knew then what I meant. 




after, the Elbe, on ac- 
count of heavy rains, had overflowed its banks. Schandau 
became flooded. Traffic in the streets of the old town was 
carried on in boats, a very amusing and picturesque sight. 
We thought it best to leave and bade a regretful good-by to 
Frau Zschachlitz, who had been the first to know of our en- 
gagement and whose kindness and care we appreciated with 
all our hearts. 

Clara knew of a very good pension in Berlin, where we 
both lived until our return to New York. Her work with 
Busoni continued and a few hours after her first lesson there 
came a gorgeous box of flowers from her teacher. Of course 
Clara had told him of our engagement. 

Professor Halir was at home again, lighter in weight, and 
celebrating his release from a longish period of abstinence 
by eating heartily and drinking beer, in full contentment and 
in utter disregard of the doctor's instructions. 

My lessons went on, and my teacher seemed much pleased 
with my work. He said I must go with him to Joachim for 


I Marry 

whom I was to play. A time was set but I never showed up. 
I was horribly afraid of playing for the great man. I lacked 
the necessary nerve to go through such an ordeal and have 
been sorry ever since to have let slip such an opportunity to 
meet the master. Halir was much provoked, but he under- 
stood finally. 

Halir at my last lesson told me that if I ever came to 
Europe again to study he would advise me to go to Ysaye; 
that while he would always welcome me as a pupil, he felt 
that my feeling for the violin indicated a natural trend 
towards the Belgian school. I was grateful for this unselfish 
advice and wondered at Halir's acute perception, for ever 
since I had heard the great Belgian, the sound of his violin, 
his handling of the instrument, the infinite sensitivity of his 
flawless bowing, I had possessed a constant and guiding pic- 
ture; and perhaps I had already, in my playing, taken on 
some qualities of the Belgian school. 

We sailed from Hamburg on the "Barbarossa" with many 
misgivings as to how our engagement would be taken in 
New York by Clara's family. As to my own family's recep- 
tion, I felt secure; though 1 knew that my mother in particu- 
lar realized with sadness that I would leave home and that 
our very intimate companionship must undergo an outward 
change. At the Captain's table, a long one in those days, 
Howard Brockway and Miss von Heimburg, whom I now 
called "Xante," sat opposite us. They were very jolly meals. 
The ocean was calm, which^was particularly fortunate, for 
one morning a loud explosion occurred, coming from the 

Music Is My Faith 

engine-room, followed by the disquieting noise of escaping 
steam. The engines were stopped. One of the large piston 
heads had blown off and been hurled through the skylight. 
No one in the crew was hurt and soon after we proceeded 
slowly with only one screw working, while the engineers 
worked steadily for over twenty-four hours fabricating a 
new piston head, a remarkable feat to accomplish at sea. 

Arriving in New York Clara had to undergo the barrage 
of most of her family's disapproval of our engagement. I 
quite agreed with them. What was I but a young orchestra 
violinist of no particular distinction, with no particular 
promise of a brilliant future, of a family of the average small- 
business outlook, modest and honest good people of very 
little cultural background. I felt then, as I do now, a tre- 
mendous admiration for Clara's courage at that time, and I 
realized poignantly too my mother's fine reserve in accept- 
ing changed conditions in our home life; for now my leisure 
time was spent with Clara. At no time did she speak of her 
own feelings, but the undercurrent of sadness was there. She 
admired Clara and grudged her nothing, encouraging me, 
congratulating me always on the great prize I had won. 
There could not be a nobler spirit than my mother's. 

The concert season began again; and besides the hundred 
concerts scheduled for eight months with four rehearsals 
weekly, including tours of the German Opera season, I 
played small solo engagements and sonata recitals with 
Howard Brockway. I went on giving lessons and the num- 
ber of pupils increased. I wanted all the work I could get, 


7 M any 

for if I was to marry in the spring, as we had planned, I must 
have enough funds to meet a much larger expenditure. Clara 
too taught busily and indeed intended keeping on with her 
work until my income was sufficient for us both. One of the 
many plans Clara and I had made was that never were we to 
play in public together, no matter what the inducement 
might be! 

We wanted a simple wedding, and since Clara's sister Ellie, 
Mrs. Henry T. Seymour, was living then in Middle Gran- 
ville, New York, with her husband and two small children, 
we decided to have our wedding there on June 4, 1898. The 
imminent change in my life brought me great complexity of 
mind and dread forebodings for the future when I was alone. 
With Clara this uneasiness always disappeared, and I won- 
dered at her remarkable capacity for thinking clearly and 
planning with every detail outlined in her mind. Her opti- 
mism was naturally most refreshing and strengthening. 

The wedding day drew near and both of us kept on with 
our work up to a few days before our departure for Middle 
Granville. My parents and my sister arrived the day before 
the wedding as did all the Damrosch family and a number 
of Clara's closest friends. The next day was bright with bril- 
liant June sunshine and all the guests were early assembled 
in and about the small house. 

Clara's mother was found by her son Walter weeping on 
the front porch. He tried to soothe her by saying, "Mother, 
you're not losing Clara. She remains with you at home as 
before. Don't cry." "Oh, it isn't that, Walter, at all; but the 


Music Is My Faith 

lobster is all spoiled!" she sobbed. She had prepared and 
brought some of her choicest dishes from New York for the 
wedding breakfast, of which the lobster was her best offer- 
ing. Clara had contracted a bronchial cold and felt quite 
miserable, but little Lawrence Seymour's telling her repeat- 
edly to "Sheer up, Tante Lalla, sheer up," did help to bring 
humor at a necessary time. Lawrence had a German nurse, 
and the boy for a long time spoke English with a strong 
German accent. 

My sister at the piano, Bertha Bucklin, violin, and Lillian 
Littlehales, 'cello, played most beautifully, before the cere- 
mony, the Adagio from the trio in B flat of Beethoven. I 
turned pages for them, expecting Clara to come down the 
stairs where I was to meet her. I became so engrossed in the 
music that I forgot everything else and had to be pulled out 
of a trance to meet the bride in front of the minister. I was 
so confused that when in the ceremony I was asked, "Do you 
take this woman," etc., I answered, "I am." 

We left soon after in an open carriage with our baggage 
strapped on behind, waving good-by and being showered 
with rice. Looking back at a bend in the road I saw someone 
running after us, shouting for us to stop. He had my violin 
case under his arm. I had forgotten my fiddle for the first 
time in my life. 




IHUS ended my first epoch, 

B. c. (Before Clara) , and began Clara's second epoch, A. D. 
(After David)! 

We spent the first night at a hotel called the Trout Pa- 
vilion on Lake George. The next morning we crossed the 
lake on the steamboat to the Sagamore Hotel, where I had 
played for several seasons years before and where we were 
greeted by some of my old friends, including the proprietor 
and his family. I wanted to show Clara the place where I 
had spent so many happy and carefree days. 

After a few days at the Sagamore we went to Paradox 
Lake, driving through a violent thunderstorm from Port 
Ticonderoga. We were to spend the summer at the F 's 
at the lake, a boarding-house. The F 's were a middle- 
aged couple, he a gentle-mannered and unobtrusive person 
who, we were shortly to find, was an epileptic and mildly 
insane; she a heavy-featured and rather corpulent person 
who managed the place, did all the cooking, and looked after 
her ailing husband. 


Music Is My Faith 

We had a room on the second floor under the sloping roof. 
It was humid and close all summer. The prospects for an 
idyllic summer seemed to wane, for added to the discomfort 
of our immediate environment, I was physically enervated 
and spiritually at low ebb. There was no place out of hearing 
where I could practice, and finally in search of a room away 
from the house I found sanctuary for work in a deserted 
barn where once in a while a horse was temporarily stabled. 

In time we secured a rowboat, and much of our time was 
spent on the lake, rowing often about a mile to swim. Once, 
in the moonlight, we were startled by a tremendous splash, 
followed by smaller rhythmic ones as if some huge body 
were swimming in frantic haste. I think that I never rowed as 
fast as I did that night, away from that fearsome splashing. 
We were told the next morning that we were quite right 
to be frightened, for the disturber of the moonlit night was 
a bear. 

The summer passed on slowly in the humid atmosphere, 
in that stuffy little box of a house. Ungallant as it may sound, 
I missed the companionship and interest which I had previ- 
ously enjoyed in the summertime at Lake George and at 
Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks the many friends 
I had made at these places, their appreciation of my playing, 
and the association and the playing with some of the young 

A new life had begun for me, an entirely new orientation, 
and a decided increase in responsibilities; and while I would 
not have changed back, I missed the old associations most 


7 Worry 

poignantly. Most of it was fear, I realize now, of untried 
ground. Nightmares in broad daylight stalked me constantly. 
I was a sorry husband to one whose natural faith in and 
optimism for the future made her such a delightful com- 
panion, chasing most effectively, for a time, the threatening 
clouds of destruction. I became dependent on her entirely 
for the courage I so woefully lacked. 

In my youth I saved by far the greater part of my earnings 
for my study abroad, and always gave the money to my 
mother to put away until the amount warranted placing it 
for safety in a bank. Now I fell into the old habit. I gave my 
wife all responsibility for planning, and such business ar- 
rangements as were necessary to our work and living, plac- 
ing full reliance on her clear judgment and wisdom in 
budgeting. This left me free to live on to dream, not idle 
phantasies, but to plan in my own obscure way all that would 
make life worth the living. 

The work I chose to do has never been perfunctory, for 
I had a goal, though dimly seen, which was my objective. 
Not merely a living to earn but a real life out of living. That 
meant real freedom, for I believed a heaven existed on earth, 
that life could be made glorious, inwardly stimulating, if 
one accepted the latent god in the human being. This con- 
ception needed speech: thus music, in its highest and purest 
form, became a necessity to mankind. 

When I had reached this point of conviction I discarded 
what pride of performance I may have possessed, what 
desire for cheap publicity I may have intermittently enter- 

Music Is My Faith 

tained. I shunned professional companionship, the sterile 
musical jargon of fiddle and piano playing. It was not in- 
spiring to be told by my musical friends of the hopelessness 
of a musical career, that it led to ultimate disappointment 
and loss of youthful illusions. My stubborn resistance to this 
influence was fortified by a personal vision of a life devoted 
to a philosophy, indefinite as it was, in which music might 
be the key to many a locked door to deeper understanding. 
No matter where or what I played, it was to me the oppor- 
tunity to test by other ears and hearts than my own the as- 
surance of this deeply rooted belief. 

Alas, the fallacy of it was too often proved by a per- 
formance that lacked any trace of such deliverance and left 
behind a scathing memory of execrable violin playing and 
poor musicianship. Such memories brought a feeling of 
shame which plunged me into a devastating sense of futility 
and personal worthlessness. And so I ranged from Hell to 
Heaven, or the other way round. 

If my wife found this lack of stability in me difficult, she 
made no sign of it, and her optimism held full sway, proving 
a refuge in moments of despair. 

Late in August we left Paradox Lake for a few weeks' stay 
in Canada, most of the time stopping with old friends and 
seeking out my old haunts, Berthier-en-haut and Cap Rouge. 

But soon we were on our way back to New York, back to 
327 Amsterdam Avenue, the apartment which had been 
Clara's home with her mother and aunt, both of whom gave 
us a most affectionate welcome. They had contrived to 


/ Worry 

arrange a small apartment for us as well as an independent 
one for themselves. Here, too, the Frank Damroschs had a 
larger apartment on the floor above connected by a "secret" 
staircase which always seemed to be the delight of our 

Our little home was most attractive and cheerful. Clara 
began her teaching, the pupils coming now to her; while I, 
renting Mr. Damrosch's studio at Carnegie Hall for three 
afternoons a week, had my pupils there. The studio next to 
ours was occupied by James Gordon Hardie, a well-known 
portrait painter with whom I soon became acquainted. He 
asked me to sit for him, or rather stand, for he chose to paint 
me in the act of playing the violin. He called it "Bildniss 
eines Mannes" and generously gave it to me. 

At the same time I kept on with my work in Rivington 
Street at the Settlement, teaching the violin and conducting 
the growing string orchestra of children. The school had 
grown in size, needing more room and more teachers. Some 
of the older boys were enrolled in the faculty as student 
teachers and a number of musical amateurs from uptown 
took places on the list as so-called volunteers. 

Financial backing for the school was meager, and the 
worry of meeting our most modest deficit always bore heav- 
ily upon us. A young violinist from upstate came to study 
with me privately. He had heard much of our music school 
and hoped some day to work in it. By temperament enthu- 
siastic but impractical, generous to a fault, an intense music- 
lover, his was a spirit, I soon realized, that could find haven 


Music Is My Faith 

in such work. It was a fortuitous happening that brought us 
together at the right moment. Since salary was no object to 
him I was able to install him as my assistant at a nominal 
salary. His name was Edgar Stowell, later head of the Bronx 
Music School. 

He was invaluable to the work at this time for he was 
able to devote all his afternoons to teaching, while I could 
scarcely find time to give more than three afternoons a week 
to this increasingly engrossing adventure. It was also neces- 
sary to secure a substitute conductor for the little orchestra. 
Good fortune again brought to me a Mr. Perry, a young 
violinist and good musician who now took charge of the 
sundry rehearsals which were held at the University Settle- 
ment in Rivington Street. 

The rehearsals for the symphony concerts had already 
begun. Added to these were those for the German Opera 
season for which Mr. Walter Damrosch had been preparing 
during the summer. He had engaged in Germany Alvary 
and Rothmiihl, tenors; Ternina, Gadski, sopranos, Marie 
Bremer, mezzo, Emil Fischer, basso, and many others. Jan 
Koert was concertmaster and a most effective one too, for 
he knew intimately, through his European experience in the 
various opera houses, all the Wagner music dramas. 

I sat next to him but lived literally in another world, for 
this music stirred me to untold depths of my being. I remem- 
ber, after a performance of Tristan and Isolde, walking and 
walking until almost daybreak as if in a dream, living over 


I Worry 

again the tragic surge of the music and the immense portent 
of heroic and self-sacrificing love. 

The complete thrall this music held over me once led the 
first flute player, Schade, to say to me during the intermis- 
sion after the second act: "See here, Mannes, if you keep on 
playing that way during the rest of the season, you'll finish 
by wearing a wooden overcoat in the spring." 




A HE Wagner Opera tours kept 

me away from New York for weeks at a rime. I traveled as 
far as Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City, with many a one- 
night stand all the way. All of the performances were sold 
out and the sign in the lobby of the theatres, "Standing 
Room Only," was a nightly and most gratifying display. 

In Omaha, a one-night stand, Die Walkure was billed for 
performance, and for this opera a horse was needed to carry 
a Walkiire at top speed past a netted opening in a backdrop. 
The floor of that particular part of the stage was covered 
with heavy felting to eliminate all sounds of thudding hoofs. 
This horse had been selected and rehearsed before our ar- 
rival, but, to the dismay of the stage manager, failed to ap- 
pear long after the appointed rime at the stage door. What 
was to be done? The performance could not go on: the cur- 
tain could not be raised without the horse actually on the 

Jack, the baggage-master, took upon himself the charge 
of securing this property. A very important person in the 

Wagner Operas Tour America 

company was Jack. Upon him depended the safe and timely 
arrival of large orchestral instruments, costumes, properties 
and immense stage sets, etc. Jack had formerly been a 
medium-weight pugilist and his face bore many distorted 
features, reminiscences of well-directed and crushing blows 
a bashed-in nose, cauliflower ears, and a crooked mouth. 
On our tours there were many occasions when his lightning- 
like fists were used effectively to bring baggage through 
in time, for his work was often interfered with by lo- 
cal baggagemen who felt themselves discriminated against 
in not receiving contracts for trucking. Jack and I were 
friends and he constituted himself my protector. I often 
rode with him in the baggage car and he told me of his bouts 
as a professional boxer. 

Jack the resourceful went out into the street, saw a de- 
serted and dilapidated cab with a sleeping and spavined nag 
in the shafts. As luck would have it, the driver was not in 
sight. Quickly unhitching the horse, he pulled him through 
the stage door. 

The conductor went below and in a few minutes the cur- 
tain rose to the wild grandeur of the Ride of the Valkyries. 
Rising above the music we distinctly heard backstage the 
sound of lumbering hoofs in the excitement the heavy floor 
covering had been forgotten and was not laid and across 
the opening of the drop there appeared the old white cab 
horse. Seated on his back was Jack, his man-handled face 
grinning beneath the brass helmet from under which hung 
the long golden tresses of an heroic Valkyrie, while over 


Music Is My Faith 

his shoulders was her white mantle and in his hand a long 

Our conductor almost dropped his baton in consternation 
and surprise but held on to it only to hit Novacek, the first 
viola, who had stood up while playing to witness the amaz- 
ing sight. Jack's impromptu appearance on horseback was 
explained afterwards by the sudden illness of the girl rider. 
Perhaps, seeing that sorry bony creature, she feigned an ill- 
ness rather than appear on it. 

We were fortunate in having as our first horn player at 
this time Xavier Reiter. He had come to this country to be 
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, attracting attention 
not only as an outstanding artist, but by his unique appear- 
ance as well. His long, raven-black hair parted in the middle 
hung to his shoulders like Buffalo Bill's, and like the famous 
Indian scout, he wore a mustache and a Vandyke beard. 

The Symphony Society was able to secure his services on 
account of an unpleasant happening to Reiter at the end of 
his third season in Boston. On his daily walks in and about 
the city he was always accompanied by two huge Russian 
wolfhounds. While bathing them one morning in the foun- 
tain on Boston Common, he was arrested with his dogs, and 
all were confined in jail for a few hours. He was bailed out 
only in time to play an afternoon concert of the orchestra. 
This indignity to his pride brought Boston and everything 
in it his withering contempt. He deserted the community as 
one unworthy of his services as an artist and a free spirit! 

The performances of The RingRheingold, Walkure, 

Wagner Operas Tour America 

Siegfried y and Gotterdammerung brought Reiter the great- 
est joy, for was he not the hunting horn of Siegfried? He re- 
fused to sit in the orchestra but stood in the wings to sound 
heroically Siegfried's challenging notes as they had never 
echoed before, and as they have never echoed since that 
time. Now Reiter lived apart from his colleagues, deigning 
to give an occasional nod to us weaklings, for he was Sieg- 
fried the Hero Incarnate. With Alvary, the unforgettable 
son of Sieglinde, he became a bosom friend; at least he 
considered himself so, for had not Alvary given him a 
case of champagne on tour in token of his inestimable assis- 

Reiter remained in our orchestra until it was disbanded a 
few years later; he then joined the Philharmonic, with which 
he played up to the time of his retirement a few years ago to 
a house he had built in Westchester County and which he 
appropriately enough called Walhalla. I felt very much 
favored by an invitation to visit him there, but for some rea- 
son I never took advantage of his kind and surely sincere 
courtesy. I am told that for years, in and around the locality 
of his little house, Siegfried's horn sounded often through 
the early morning hours. 

Our tours were, in the main, scheduled as one-night 
stands. This entailed hard labor and astute management on 
the part of the executive force responsible for the com- 
pany's prompt appearance at a point sometimes three or four 
hundred miles away. The heavy sets for The Ring, Meister- 
singer, Lohengrin, and Tannhauser, had to be taken to pieces 


Music Is My Faith 

and carted, together with many trunks of instruments and 
costumes, to the railroad freight yards, packed into de- 
tached baggage cars, which were then shunted and attached 
to the line of sleeping coaches (we always traveled on a spe- 
cial train running on its own schedule) in which lay at rest 
the one hundred and fifty men and women of the company 
the cast, chorus and orchestra. 

The pivotal point of the managing of this huge and com- 
plicated organization was our conductor, Walter Damrosch. 
Add to this program our daily rehearsals which we looked 
upon as an ordinary item of routine, and one must wonder 
more than ever that this amazing young man could carry 
through so stupendous a task. It surely left him little time for 
preparation or for the musical meditation so necessary for 
the responsible artist. One could often hear him in his hotel 
room, in the few minutes he had to spare at the piano, play- 
ing for himself, or going over some parts of a score, coaching 
a singer and giving, at the same time, stage directions and 
some information important to dramatic business. 

The only moments of relaxation and ease came to us 
on day jumps to comparatively nearby cities, when the 
orchestra played poker in the foul, smoke-wreathed day 
coaches. Russell, the drum and cymbal player who was also 
the librarian big, heavy and lethargic possessed the ideal 
poker face, and often landed in New York after these tours 
richer by several hundred dollars. Drawn into one of the 
poker games I lost, in as many minutes, twenty dollars, 
much to the amusement of my companions and the benign 

1 60 

Wagner Operas Tour America 

satisfaction of Russell, the game's banker. I never played 
poker after this. 

The men of the orchestra traveled with very light bag- 
gage, mostly small bags. Several of us had, besides, small 
trunks which were sent to those of us who stopped at hotels 
an expensive thing to do, for our allowance on tour was 
$2.50 a day to cover living expenses room and meals and 
something left over for the usual meeting of the orchestra 
after the performance in some back-room of a German beer 
saloon before the train was boarded. These nightly meetings 
were genial times indeed, and the hilarious company some- 
times included our conductor. Often now I met him in the 
restaurants of the hotels, and by invitation at the same table. 

At one such time I had the great pleasure also of meeting 
Ethel Barrymore, then about twenty-two years of age, the 
most beautiful and charming woman I had ever met. She 
was touring as star with her own company under the man- 
agement of Charles Frohman. 

In the mornings, when our train arrived at its destination, 
some of the men would jump off almost before the wheels 
had stopped and run to hunt for rooming-houses which 
asked only one dollar for a night's lodging. They seemed to 
know just where to go and were soon settled. Once I hunted 
with them, but was so appalled at the thought of spending 
the night in such a place that I never tried it again. Instead, 
I sought a good hotel with Jan Koert, our concertmaster, in- 
dulging in a luxury which made these tours a financial loss 
to me, at least. 


Music Is My Faith 

In the evenings when I reached the opera house or theatre 
rather early before the performance, I would see, back of the 
scene set for the first act, trunks being opened by the or- 
chestra men in every degree of undress; bass boxes like huge 
and ugly sarcophagi being opened to extract the instruments 
swathed like mummies, for wrapped about them were many 
wrinkled suits of evening wear. A number of the men, to 
save laundry expense, resorted to "dickies," packets of paper 
shirt bosoms held together like writing-pads and torn off 
one at a time. They were fastened to a collar button, and 
hung on the chest. With coat and vest on, it was not dis- 
covered by a casual observer that paper took the place of 
immaculate and gleaming white linen. 

The one-night stands were telling on me with the ir- 
regularity of eating and sleeping; but the emotional toll I 
paid at every Wagner performance was the highest. I tried 
time and time again to play without the passionate interest 
the music evoked in me, but then I grew ashamed and felt a 
disloyalty, which I could not spiritually bear, to the music. 
With experience, however, I learnt more and more to play 
with greater ease. 

I discovered that what caused my destructive manner of 
playing was not a real emotional outgiving but a bodily 
strain a serious handicap to a smooth, elegant and expres- 
sive style. The cause was a lack of perfect co-ordination and 
physical balance. Had I known this years earlier I might have 
been spared untold distress and disappointment. Why had 


Wagner Operas Tour America 

none of my teachers led me upon an easier path? Was it their 
fault? I am inclined to think, however, that my stupidity and 
a foolish willful pride in shutting my eyes to good examples 
around me were to blame. 

Our audiences varied with the cities where we played. In 
Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis they listened with appre- 
ciative ears and a prepared intelligence for German opera, 
for these cities held a large Teutonic population. In many 
other cities there existed a profound ignorance of opera, and 
German opera particularly, with its literary basis in the 
Teutonic sagas and the mythological folklore. In such places 
people came to the performances out of curiosity stimulated 
by an actively-created newspaper publicity. 

These various tours lasted from one to many more weeks 
at a time, but were always planned to allow our return to 
New York for a pair of symphony concerts and a perform- 
ance of the Oratorio Society which was being prepared and 
conducted by Frank Damrosch. 

At the end of this season I decided to give up the opera 
tours and remain in New York to continue teaching and re- 
tain my place in the orchestra for the symphony and oratorio 
conceits. Then, too, I wanted to take hold with greater dili- 
gence of the work at the Music School Settlement which 
had now bought two small houses at 53 and 55 East Third 
Street. While the concerts of the Symphony and Oratorio 
Societies presented ever growing deficits at the end of the 
season, the personal opera venture of Mr. Damrosch was 

Music Is My Faith 

financially highly successful; encouraging him to plan for 
the continuation of it, making new and more expensive con- 
tracts for solo singers, orchestras, chorus, and for the im- 
portation of more effective scenery from Vienna. The sec- 
ond season, however, had a different ending. 




1/oR the summer months we 

rented a tiny cottage at Sagaponack on Long Island, where 
Mrs. Leopold Damrosch and Tante lived with us. A child 
was coming to us, and my thoughts were colored with the 
fear of our adding another human being to the countless un- 
happy ones; a human being, moreover, who could carry the 
same characteristics I had labored so long to outgrow and 
discard. I prayed, within, that for my daughter or son, health, 
the first requisite, would be granted; a high, well-built and 
ready intelligence that would permit my child eventually to 
stand unafraid and secure against material debasement; and 
the illumination of that inner vision which, with the beauty 
of kindness, tolerance and forbearance, would help those 
who came within the radius of her or his life. 

If a daughter were to be our first child, then I prayed that 
she would possess the courageous vision and strength of pur- 
pose of a Joan of Arc. If a son, I longed for an approach to 
my idea of the gentleman, a man's man of an unquestioned 
intellectual honesty which would bring him freedom from 
cant and hypocrisy, and a progress unstimulated by any 

Music Is My Faith 

form of material competition; that he would not lose sight of 
his fellows but center his ambition on the only goal to get 
ahead of himself, his only opponent. 

Thinking of this approaching child, I began to look at all 
children as being my own in a sense that I, as their father, 
might help in the manner I saw fit. In this way it was made 
clear to me that the unspoken desire of my heart had led me 
to the little class of Miss Wagner in Rivington Street. I 
looked at this now as the one possible medium for such a 
philosophic venture, but not as an experiment. I was sure of 
the ground, and once on the ground I could look at the stars. 

Children came to the school by the hundreds, and with 
their coming we soon found our space inadequate and our 
organization too weak in funds to cope with an increasing 
deficit. Hundreds of children on the waiting list clamored 
for lessons which cost but twenty-five cents, with ten cents 
added for class lessons in elementary harmony with Angela 
Diller, and orchestra practice under me. Fifty cents, and 
later on one dollar, was asked for lessons with me. 

The young players, the more advanced ones, met me 
every Sunday morning at eleven at the rehearsal of the 
Senior Orchestra. Absentees were rare. Parents and neigh- 
bors came to these rehearsals, and Handel, Beethoven, Bach, 
Haydn, Mozart and Brahms became reverential synonyms 
for freedom and a quiet exaltation. Added to this audience 
later on were people who came from uptown, friends of the 
Board, and visitors who had read of the school's work 
through articles in magazines. 

1 66 

The Settlement Grows 

The rehearsal room, measuring roughly eighteen by 
thirty feet, became too crowded and stuffy, and windows 
had to be opened even in winter time. A sudden and startling 
interruption was caused at one of these rehearsals by a stone 
which came hurtling through the window and barely missed 
my head. Fortunately no one was hurt. The street was in- 
fested by a lawless gang of boys and this instance was a sam- 
ple of their feeling against us as unwelcome intruders. We 
discovered who these boys were. The leader was offered 
free violin lessons, became an enthusiastic pupil, and brought 
many of his companions to the school as students. 

Seated very near a little wan-looking second violinist as 
a rapt listener on a Sunday morning was a gentle, elderly 
lady from uptown who, moved by the enthusiastic attitude 
of this starved-looking youngster, handed him a five-dollar 
bill. In perplexed hesitation, stammering his protestations, he 
said, "I couldn't take it. He," pointing to me, "wouldn't like 
me to." I had often said that to take without giving an equiv- 
alent in work was weakening one's self-respect, and that 
this was a very high price to pay for such a loss. Orderliness, 
cleanliness, discipline, reverence and generosity were but a 
few of the necessary virtues that could be inculcated through 
the works of the great masters. No opportunity was lost 
through these agencies to illustrate in a simple way the art 
of living. 

The medium of religious instruction to which these 
young minds had been exposed had been, naturally, the Old 
Testament. The philosophies of life according to Matthew, 

Music Is My Faith 

Luke and Paul were unknown, and in fact proscribed read- 
ing or study for them. 

We always began our rehearsals with a Bach chorale set 
for strings, played by the young pupils with true devo- 
tion. An exceptionally beautiful sound was characteristic of 
these youngsters, both boys and girls, especially remarkable 
when one remembered that the best violin in this orchestra 
was a cheap fiddle, hardly deserving the name of violin. It 
seemed to most of our cultured listeners something of a 
miracle that sonority and fineness of tone could be drawn 
from that poor collection of assembled wood and strings. 

There was brought to me on one of these mornings a 
short, stocky boy of about eighteen, who wore, almost down 
to his knees, a belted blouse of Russian manufacture. It ap- 
peared that he had escaped from Russia and military service. 
He had had lessons on the 'cello but in the hurry of his escape 
had left his instrument behind. One could not help becom- 
ing interested in this fine, honest character, and soon he was 
taken into the school, given a 'cello and sent to the Institute 
of Musical Art to study with Alwin Schroeder, formerly 
first 'cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and at that 
time a member of the distinguished Kneisel Quartet. 

This boy, Lieff Rosanoff , became eventually a most valu- 
able member on the large faculty of our school. His class of 
pupils numbered at least thirty-five, the largest number of 
'cello students then in New York. One of these pupils was 
Marie Roemaet, now Mrs. Lieff Rosanoff, the distinguished 
'cellist of the Musical Art Quartet. In Lillian Littlehales' 


The Settlement Grows 

volume, Pablo Casals, the following mention is made of Lieff 
Rosanoff: "It is impossible to lay too much stress upon the 
significance or the stimulating effect of Casals' ideas, their 
working out both in theory and practice. The most active 
agents in giving expression to this revolutionary method of 
'cello instruction are Diran Alexanian in Paris . . . and 
Lieff Rosanoff in New York." 




ABOUT this time the Board of 

the school secured another house adjoining the two al- 
ready in our possession. We had to move out and place our 
classes in various churches and meeting halls on the lower 
East Side, pending the altering and remodeling of the three 
houses, and the building of a recital hall over the backyards. 
The next fall we opened the new building with its many 
tiny teaching rooms, and its commodious if bare concert 
hall which seated several hundred people. Its stage was large 
enough for at least forty players, later enlarged to hold still 

Thomas Tapper, writer and musical pedagogue, had been 
appointed director, with me as the head of the string depart- 
ment. Miss Wagner resigned to form a school of her own. 

We now had a head-worker and several assistants, all resi- 
dents of the house. The large influx of children bringing 
their parents with them to plead for admission made it neces- 
sary to investigate the home conditions of these applicants, 
the rent they paid, and the income of the wage-earners of the 


East Third Street 

family. While we knew that the school's attractiveness and 
the quality of its teaching were sound, it seemed unfair to 
admit those who could afford the higher fees of private 

In the midst of the shambles of a rotting spiritual and physi- 
cal decay it is no wonder that the love of music should thrust 
its comforting ray of hope into these tenement houses 
crowded with people of persecuted background. The terror 
of Russian pogroms still left many an open wound and the 
horror of narrow escapes was shudderingly talked about. 
No wonder that they, in a new country free from this night- 
mare, should huddle tightly together to gain courage. 

It can easily be understood why the children came to us 
in such numbers, many of them unable to pay the modest fee 
for lessons; and why, once they were admitted, they came 
directly from public school to East Third Street, remaining 
there most of their time and forming little groups of ensem- 
ble players. Never have I experienced such an atmosphere 
of unalloyed happiness. 

One must not judge harshly the ambition of the poor and 
hard-working parents if they turned the thoughts of their 
children in the direction of professional gain. 

I preached the cause of music in its highest and most ab- 
stract flight, and felt always depressed and discouraged when 
I looked ahead and saw myself a party to casting immature 
products on the professional music market, already over- 
crowded, bringing disappointment where joy should have 


Music Is My Faith 

Mrs. Howard Mansfield had become the chairman of the 
Board of Trustees and under her wise control the school be- 
came better organized and financially more securely sup- 
ported. Shortly after Mr. Thomas Tapper resigned. He 
could give but little time to the direction of the school, and 
by unanimous vote of the Board I was appointed director. 




JL/URiNG this development of 

the Settlement School much had come to pass in my own pri- 
vate life. A son came to us on the day after Christmas, 1 899, 
most unwillingly, for his life was in danger. Through the 
assistance of a specialist called in at the critical moment, the 
child's life was spared. 

The boy was named Leopold Damrosch in memory of 
his maternal grandfather. The trained nurse's period of serv- 
ice to the infant was indefinitely prolonged owing to the 
highly nervous equipment of her charge, for with his large 
staring brown eyes, only intermittently and fitfully closed 
in slumber, he required constant and expert attention. 

A few weeks after the birth of Leopold his mother re- 
sumed her work as teacher. I began then to arrange for a 
series of six subscription quartet concerts to take place in the 
home of Mrs. Clarence Rice at 8 1 Irving Place. My associates 
were Ludwig Marum, second violin, Jacob Altschuler, viola, 
and Leo Schultz, 'cello, all members of the reorganized New 
York Symphony Orchestra of which I was now concert- 


Music Is My Faith 

master. This reorganization was made necessary by the dis- 
astrous losses of the previous year losses which threatened 
the orchestra's existence. 

Only the Oratorio Society seemed able to live largely 
owing to the enthusiastic control of Frank Damrosch, who 
in addition to his choral work in New York, Philadelphia 
and Bridgeport, now formed a body of professional singers, 
sixty in number, to perform "a capella" works of the great 
masters. This was known as the Musical Art Society. 

The second German Opera season of Mr. Damrosch's was 
not like the first, and had been such a complete financial loss 
that further adventure in the field was impossible. Walter 
Damrosch had returned with his family to Fox Meadow 
in Westchester County to devote himself to composition. 
Among his works at this time was a sonata for violin and 
piano entitled At Fox Meadow, which was of special in- 
terest to us, for its inscription bore the legend, "Dedicated 
to Mr. and Mrs. David Mannes." This work received its 
first public performance at a recital of my brother-in-law's 
compositions at the Waldorf-Astoria, with him at the piano 
and I "behind the violin" as I chose to call it. 




THE programs of the 
Musical Art concerts a large body of strings was employed 
in the playing of a Bach or Handel Concerto Grosso. It was 
used also in accompaniment for the Double Concerto of 
Bach, which I played as associate soloist with Fritz Kreisler 
when he appeared in America for the first time. First, that 
is, if one omits his appearance as a Wunderkind with Anton 
Rubinstein on his American tour twenty years before. 

Kreisler as a grown man and mature artist brought with 
him a new and refreshing element as a violin soloist. With 
extraordinary charm and a captivating rhythmic verve his 
playing of the Brahms violin Concerto had not a trace of 
that ponderous and scratchy performance which usually 
stigmatized this superb composition. In the public mind it 
had always been judged as dull and purely cerebral; and in 
that of the average musician, not as "a concerto for the 
violin" but as one written against the king of instruments. 
Kreisler's playing of the concerto was then, and remains to- 


Music Is My Faith 

day, unapproachable in every essential of the composer's in- 

Rehearsing with him for the Bach Double Concerto, I 
spent many hours in the company of this great artist, and had 
my keenest delight when, at my request, he played the 
Kreutzer Etudes. I still believe, as I did then, that a recital de- 
voted to his playing of these exercises would serve as an ob- 
ject lesson to all teachers and students of the violin. It would 
conclusively prove that musical charm and rhythmic up- 
rightness need not be sacrificed, nor that this most sensitive 
of all instruments be subjected to the torture so often in- 
flicted on it by so-called "conscientious practice." 

Whatever this young master played became, for the time 
being, his own, and brought complete satisfaction even to 
those who recalled the performances of Wilhelmjor Joachim 
in the Beethoven Concerto. 

I had now in my worshiping memory three musical reve- 
lations, three great personalities: Paderewski, Ysaye, and 
Kreisler. Later I was to add one more, Pablo Casals. All ex- 
erted a profound and enduring influence that corroborated 
the vague musical dreams of my early youth. 

Before her marriage my wife had been one of the first sub- 
scribers to the chamber music concerts of the Kneisel Quar- 
tet of which Franz Kneisel was first violin, Otto Roth, 
second violin, Louis Svecenski, viola, and Alwin Schroeder, 
'cello. These concerts were meagerly attended until, as a bid 
for a larger public, they engaged Josefly to play with them 
the Schumann quintet. This proved such a success that after- 

'to Maime* Quartet. Dmi Manm, Fust Violin UiAwg Marwn>Secoiid Vw 
Jacob Altsclwlei i Viola: Leo Sclwlz, 'Cello 

Fritz Kreisler: The Kneisel Quartet: Weingartner 

wards the services of a famous visiting pianist were nearly al- 
ways enlisted in the performance of piano quartets and quin- 
tets. Then chamber music concerts became popular with 
the musical cognoscenti of New York, and it was the thing 
to be a steady subscriber to this annual series of concerts. 
These occasions were fruitful experiences for me and gave 
me invaluable standards to keep in mind later on. The play- 
ing of this Quartet was then at its highest artistic level, and it 
is the period I want to remember when I think of the Kneisel 

Some years afterwards, on the program of their two con- 
certs in Brooklyn and New York was the then unfamiliar 
quintet of Cesar Franck, with Clara Damrosch Mannes as- 
sisting. As a token of a very fine performance Clara pre- 
sented me with two pearl studs, purchased with the fees 
earned by her at these concerts. I still use them with evening 
wear. I may be absent-minded, but there are some things I 
do not lose! 

At a later concert of the Quartet I conducted, seated, and 
played with a small string orchestra the accompaniment to 
the Bach Double Concerto in which Kneisel and Theodoro- 
vitch were the soloists. 

This was the year in which Mr. Damrosch brought over 
Weingartner as guest conductor. We immensely enjoyed 
the leadership of this fine and virile director. His European 
reputation as a distinguished artist was well known in our 
country, and to this were added the laurels won from an en- 
thusiastic American public. The orchestra made several tours 


Music Is My Faith 

with him, and in Chicago, Gncinnati, and Milwaukee par- 
ticularlycities which held a numerous German population 
the concert halls were jammed by audiences which gave 
the conductor a tremendous welcome and always fine ap- 
preciation. In Boston, on the contrary, many seats were va- 
cant and the small audience was very cold. I remember the 
manager telling us that the receipts of this concert totaled 
only $175. 1 don't think Boston would be guilty of such mu- 
sical apathy today! 



AFTER a season of constant and 

hard work of orchestra rehearsals, quartet rehearsals, lessons 
and the mounting responsibilities of the Settlement it was 
good to settle in a small farmhouse for the summer on the 
shore of Mecox Bay near Bridgehampton, Long Island. Our 
family included Mrs. Damrosch, Tante, and little Leopold 
with his devoted trained nurse. With us also was Peter Kurz, 
whom Thomas Mott Osborne had sent to New York to 
study with me. His board and lessons were returned in vari- 
ous items of service such as waiting on table, and driving 
"The Walker Gordon Express" the rolling stock of which 
consisted of a bicycle and, as trailer, a toy express wagon to 
the railroad station two miles away to fetch the daily ship- 
ment of prepared milk for the baby. It was an amusing sight 
to see Peter riding furiously along with a wildly careening 
little wagon hitched on behind, bumping dangerously over 
the rough country road, but miraculously arriving with the 
precious freight intact. In his off hours that summer I taught 
him to sail a boat. 


Music Is My Faith 

The limited expanse of the shallow waters of Mecox Bay 
gave Clara and me much enjoyment. One afternoon in 
rounding up to the mooring stake I gave up the tiller to her 
as usual and ran forward to grab at the stake, but lost my 
balance and clung frantically to the upright. Clara, laughing 
hysterically at the sight of my ludicrous predicament, lost 
her sense of direction and instead of rescuing me drove the 
boat ashore. And there I was, left with no alternative but to 


In the early fall we were back in New York and ready for 
work. A public recital of the Mannes Quartet at Mendels- 
sohn Hall was planned in addition to new engagements in 
private houses. Since I had not the slightest financial backing 
for the Quartet, it was necessary for me personally to secure 
such engagements in order to keep the Quartet interested in 
giving even the insufficient hours for rehearsal. They were 
busy men, all in the Symphony Orchestra, and in addition 
they devoted many of their free hours to teaching. 

Most of our rehearsals were held at night when we were 
tired and spent. It was a heart-breaking experience for us, 
with too little time for preparation. Lacking the routine of 
my colleagues in quartet playing, I still felt myself unworthy 
as a leader of these well-equipped musicians, and it was only 
in public performance that I showed any of the independ- 
ence necessary. Then I drew desperately on a certain cour- 
age which came from rather unfixed ideals. My friends and 
well-wishers were enthusiastic, but I was left vulnerable to 

1 80 

Summer on Mecox Bay: Death of a Quartet 

several bitter shafts of criticism directed by those of more 
discriminating taste, or possibly those used to a more con- 
ventional standard of quartet playing: a performance which 
was meticulously finer but, in my opinion, lacking in free- 
dom, poetic insight, and resonance. Nevertheless I persisted 
with a fortitude that seems amazing to me now. 

Following the plan of the Kneisels, which our Quartet 
strongly admired, and against a better instinct, Richard 
Strauss, then in the country on tour, was engaged to play 
his piano quartet with us to draw public interest. We had 
only two rehearsals, the audience was meager, and the news- 
paper reviews the next morning were few in number and 
written perfunctorily in a spirit of barely passing interest. 
This occasion did nothing to enhance the reputation of our 
organization and at the end of the season, our second year 
together, it was disbanded. No support, insufficient public 
approbation, and most of all my lack of the background of 
quartet experience were the cause. 

I can remember here and there, despite these serious handi- 
caps, some outstandingly good performances. We had 
played a number of works then unknown to the public, in- 
cluding the quartet of that sterling Russian composer Ta- 
neiew, and we were told that our Quartet had elements of a 
refreshing freedom and a wholesome quality of sound not 
possessed by many a finer organization. I know now that 
with enough financial backing to insure a longer life for the 
Mannes Quartet, many of its artistic insufficiencies would 


Music Is My Faith 

naturally have been smoothed out. I had, however, learned 
much, and in spite of a depressing memory I am glad to have 
known the pain of an impossible venture. 

It was now that the children's orchestra, no longer a body 
of children, was merged into a new and larger organization 
which I had formed, and named "The Symphony Club," 
the erstwhile children forming the nucleus of a large string 
body numbering about thirty-five. Many very good players, 
mostly women trained for the musical profession and mar- 
ried now to men of means, found an outlet for their talents. 
Weekly rehearsals were held at the home of Mr. Charles T. 
Barney, whose daughter, a former pupil of mine, sat among 
the violins. Symphonic music was now our aim and ambi- 
tion, for we intended to give symphony concerts for chari- 
table purposes such as day nurseries for the poor and a home 
for crippled children. With the professional assistance of 
members of the Symphony Orchestra, players of reed, brass, 
and percussion instruments, also bass players, extra violas 
and 'celli, we gave a number of such concerts, the programs 
of which included soloists like Harold Bauer and Zimbalist, 
in concertos to which we played the accompaniment. These 
concerts yielded most adequate returns, for audiences filled 
the hall and boxes were sold at high prices. This was my 
first experience as a symphony conductor. Just as my pre- 
vious work with settlement string orchestras was a prepara- 
tion for The Symphony Club, so was this later activity the 


Summer on Mecox Bay: Death of a Quartet 

forerunner of a future expansion as conductor but that is 
a long way ahead. The Symphony Club maintained an active 
existence until America's entrance into the Great War. I re- 
signed, and the following year the association was disbanded. 
I was now under the management, as soloist, of the Wolf- 
sohn Musical Bureau, where Richard Copley, then a young 
man, began his career as concert manager. One of the en- 
gagements received through them was to play at a musicale 
which Cissie Loftus, the actress, was giving; and strangely 
enough I was not to appear at her apartment until midnight. 
With my accompanist I arrived promptly at what seemed a 
very late hour for musical entertainment, to find no one but 
the colored maid present, and not a sign in evidence of the 
preparation for a coming festivity which, I was told, was to 
include supper for twenty guests. I waited until nearly one 
o'clock and then asked the maid when Miss Loftus and her 
guests were to arrive. She casually informed me that Miss 
Loftus was playing in Brooklyn and couldn't possibly get 
home until one o'clock. "Could I telephone?" I asked, for I 
felt that I ought to tell Clara not to expect me back much be- 
fore sunrise. I was shown into the actress' sleeping quarters 
and found the telephone beside her bed. Calling my wife I 
told her of the unpropitious hour of this engagement. She 
asked, "Where are you now?" "In Cissie Loftus' bedroom," 
I answered. After an embarrassing interval in our telephone 
talk, I realized that explanations were in order, much to my 
wife's relief! 



IHE following summer we 

spent at Seal Harbor, Maine. I left, however, after a few 
weeks to meet the orchestra for a four weeks' engagement at 
the Exposition in Pittsburgh to include two concerts daily. 
Besides my position as concertmaster I now held that of as- 
sistant conductor, which I filled once in a while for half of 
the afternoon's program. The weather was increasingly hot, 
and had it not been for the unflagging interest and enthu- 
siasm of an always closely-packed hall it would have 
almost impossible to play in the sooty, humid atmospt 
At last those grilling weeks passed; and a bright 
sunny morning found me in Seal Harbor with Clara, Tartte, 
that captivating boy of ours, and Nana, his devoted colored 
nurse. In the weeks of my absence Clara had rented in a na- 
tive's house, a short distance from the hotel, a room in which 
she had installed an upright piano, and which she used for 
practice every morning. I had looked forward during my 
exile to playing with her again. 


Husband and Wife Violin and Piano 

The morning after my arrival we played some of the 
sonatas we most cared for. We chose the G Major Sonata of 
Brahms and were delighted with the ease and mutual under- 
standing of the first movement. Suddenly, at the end of the 
movement, the door was thrown open violently and the 
woman of the house appeared, apparently greatly excited. 
Pointing her finger at me, and with a face distorted with 
passion, she said, "How dare you bring that devil's instru- 
ment into my house!" We were transfixed with surprise, so 
startled that we uttered no sound. I packed up my violin. 
Our garden had withered, and the hopes of many such daily 
communions were completely darkened. We left in sadness 
not unmixed with a feeling of hurt pride that our work had 
not only failed to receive its usual welcome but actually had 
met with acute dislike! We discovered later that our land- 
lady was a very nervous and sickly woman and that the 
vibrations of the violin in that tiny wooden house were 
agony to her jangled nerves. After that we were able to play 
in tbs village schoolhouse. 

Drdan Pond there was a charming tea-house, and I saw 
lity of giving sonata concerts, not in the rooms, 
buron the wide porches which looked out on the mountain- 
rimmed lake and the distance beyond. The proprietor was 
interested in the plan and our friends urged us to play. To 
obtain the services of a resident secretary was an important 
factor. Fortunately someone suggested Miss Marion Claire 
Smith, then secretary to Dr. Christian Herter who had a 
home on the island. Miss Smith was willing to undertake the 

Music Is My Faith 

management of these concerts. The results were excellent, 
for not alone were the financial returns surprisingly good, 
but a number of private engagements were the outcome of 
the enthusiastic reception given our programs. We remem- 
bered that on our engagement day Clara and I had resolved 
never to play in public together, but that determination was 
swept aside in the feeling that as ensemble players we had 
something to offer to a public unacquainted with some of the 
most beautiful compositions in musical literature. 

With the exception of one summer spent in Belgium, for 
several years afterwards these sonata recitals were continued 
in a newly constructed music room with large plate-glass 
windows opening out on Jordan Pond. 




JVliss SMITH had shown such 

excellent qualities in the management of these recitals that I 
suggested to Mrs. Howard Mansfield, then at Seal Harbor, 
that she be engaged as general secretary of the Music School 
Settlement, a position which she filled with fervid devotion 
and tireless interest for many years. Her particular under- 
standing of my personal viewpoint and manner of carrying 
forward the philosophy of the work with the thousands of 
children who came to us for enlightenment through music 
was invaluable. In all those exciting years when the renown 
of the modest institution spread over a considerable area of 
the world, and forty-two similar schools were actually born 
in our own country, the assistance she rendered can hardly 
be estimated. For the purpose of our intercommunion with 
these individual efforts, Mrs. Mansfield and I were able to 
announce later the actual formation of the Federation of 
Music School Settlements. This not alone included all the 
existing schools, but offered to future ones the advantages of 

Music Is My Faith 

advice based on our own experience. Conventions were held 
there and in other cities with programs including meetings 
and concerts by the pupils. Miss Smith had added to her 
strenuous days downtown the entire mechanical work of 
organizing this new and difficult activity. 

There were no idle moments for me in the afternoons 
spent there, and many a quick action was necessary to avert 
physical or economic collapse of either a pupil in distress or 
someone in his or her immediate family circle. Threatened 
evictions were settled, and more serious still, critical opera- 
tions were arranged for with surgeons of the highest repute 
who gave their valuable services. And many a medical head 
of a hospital found a bed for a sufF ering youngster when one 
seemed not to exist. I never appealed to these generous men 
in vain for such assistance. The more imposing their renown, 
the greater their alacrity, it seemed, in giving of their pre- 
cious skill. Never was I so content as when it actually came 
to pass that through the link of a child, the whole family 
chain of father, mother, sister and relatives, became at- 
tached to us in a fine regard and affection. 

A bright-eyed youngster came into the office one aft- 
ernoon asking if he might have violin lessons. An instru- 
ment he had, but no money to pay for lessons. He was told 
that we could give no more scholarships but would place his 
name on the visiting list. He was visibly disappointed and 
asked plaintively how long he had to wait. On learning that 
the period was indefinite and might be prolonged a con- 
siderable length of time he left, with tears in his eyes. 


The Federation of Music School Settlements Is Born 

His departure gave us keen regret that we were powerless 
to raise the hopes of this interesting youngster. Two weeks 
afterwards he reappeared, announcing joyfully that he had 
money and extracting from his pocket the amount of two 
dollars in coins of small denomination. He was sent to me to 
find out how he had gained possession of this, for him, so 
large a sum. After repeated questioning he told me the fol- 
lowing story. His mother, finding it necessary to add to the 
meager income of a large family, had put up extra beds for 
which workers who came there only to sleep after a day of 
from twelve to fourteen hours in the sweatshops paid one 
dollar a week. 

The boy conceived the plan of renting his own bed to an 
anxious lessee, receiving the usual one dollar a week; he him- 
self sleeping on the floor of the tiny kitchen, perhaps dream- 
ing of himself as a celebrated violinist! Needless to say he 
was admitted at once. Never had I seen a happier little face. 

I remember him afterwards as a very intelligent youth, 
completing his public school course and later employed in 
an office downtown, joining the boys' club and the adult 
orchestra and on Sundays playing string quartets with his 
musical friends of the school. Such results gave me far 
greater satisfaction than if one had helped along a more 
talented student to a mediocre place as a professional musi- 
cian. This way of living 'with music, instead of by it, was the 
light of our ambition, and I am content in the thought that 
the above case is not an isolated one but an example of the 
general rule. 

Music Is My Faith 

Not only were these children anxious to make personal 
sacrifices, but at an early age they were able through in- 
dividual initiative to put through their cherished desires, an 
example of the old adage: "Interest is the soul of will." Un- 
like the children living in great comfort, these took the care 
and trouble of their parents much to heart. They knew how 
much money came into the house, the burden of the cost of 
rent and food, which had to be shouldered by both their 
hard-working parents, and when these crushing loads had to 
be met. The fear of unemployment and sickness was the con- 
stant element in the general family discussion. Is it a won- 
der then that the frayed nerves of their elders made a life for 
these youngsters in which there was barely a kind word, 
and one where their education was gained in packed, ill- 
ventilated classrooms where they were simply one number 
in fifty or sixty? Small wonder they sought the haven of the 
well-kept and kindly atmosphere of the house on East Third 
Street, with trees in front of the attractive red brick facade, 
with windowsills banked with gay-looking geraniums, and 
a wide inviting door. That this once ugly and sordid street 
reacted to the neat and clean appearance of our building was 
only natural. The homes of our children also, in general, took 
on a more hopeful outlook; and the burden of many a 
wearied mother lightened when she heard her child prac- 

/ remember so well the days and years you used to come 
home in the evening from Third Street. We lived on the 


The Federation of Music School Settlements Is Born 

sixth floor of an apartment house on Amsterdam Avenue at 
Seventy -fifth Street. It 'was a hideous househalf red, half 
yellow brick; and the streets about it were dull and ugly. But 
the apartment itself had great warmth. Although nothing 
in it was of any great monetary or artistic value and al- 
though we laugh rather kindly now about the golden oak in 
the dining-room and the potted ferns and that little den of 
yours plastered thick with signed photographs of musicians 
even so, there was peace and unity in the large rooms. They 
had been lived in many years. 

From the corner of the living room you could see down 
Amsterdam Avenue as far as the subway station at Seventy- 
second Street. Every evening around six o'clock Mother 
and I and Puff, the big white Persian cat would sit at the 
window seat and look for your home-coming. People would 
pour out of the subway and up the street in a long straggling 
line. Then suddenly, "There he w/" Mother would cry or 
sometimes I. And we were always just as excited to see you. 

But often even three blocks away we could see how 
tired you were. In the cold winter evenings, dark at that 
hour, of course, we could see you as you passed the street 
lamps, your overcoat collar turned up, your thin face 
pinched and whitish, your shoulders a little bowed. 




the many hundreds 
of interesting experiences at East Third Street, I choose one 
that I think particularly significant of the school's influence. 
A card was brought to me one day while I was teaching, and 
on it was written, "Please advise bearer what to do." The 
message was signed by a former fellow-student of mine in 
the days I had studied with Carl Richter. Following the card 
there came into the room a rather fine-looking man of about 
fifty. At a sign from me, my pupil left the room and the 
stranger said: "Mr. Mannes, I was told that though you took 
only young people as pupils you would at least listen to me, 
and that I could depend upon your help and advice as to 
what I should do." 

I asked him to play and he unpacked his violin. In a min- 
ute or less I saw that his accomplishment embraced only the 
rudiments of violin playing and not much more in the 
knowledge of music itself. "I know," he said, "that I know 
nothing about the violin and less about music, but I've always 
loved it beyond all things in this world, and since the age of 


Clara Dimrosch Mamies 

Human Document 

eighteen I haven't had the opportunity to study. I've heard 
about your work with the children, and I should like to be 
one of them despite my age. I am so anxious to start at the 
beginning and work my way up as if I were a boy again; in 
fact I want to be where there are many such happy children 
as I have seen coming into these doors for the past few days. 
It has taken me at least a week to gain the courage to enter 
here." He wanted to pay enough for his lessons to enable a 
child or two to have free lessons. He was promptly enrolled 
and his hour-lesson schedule arranged. He took his leave in 
rather a thoughtful manner and after a curious hesitation, as 
if he had something on his mind that needed saying but 
which he had later decided not to say. 

While I was thinking of the strange impression my un- 
usual visitor had made upon me, the door was gently opened 
after a faint rap, and my stranger reappeared. "I beg your 
pardon," he said, most apologetically, "but before I go on 
with this I've got to feel that I am giving you as fair a deal as 
you've given me. When I've told you my history, I don't be- 
lieve you'll want me among the young people here in this 
wonderful place." I assured him that I needed to know noth- 
ing but his earnest and sincere love of music for its own 
sake, of which I felt certain; that I needed no account of his 
life previous to the present moment. His insistence that his 
peace of mind depended on his telling me of his life brought 
the following story: 

In a town of Pennsylvania his father owned a small saloon 
in which the son served after school hours as bartender so 


Music Is My Faith 

that his father might get a few hours of rest during the long 
day of serving beer and drinks. He was then just eighteen 
years of age. His father had told him that his property was 
not only heavily mortgaged but in danger of foreclosure. 
This preyed on the boy's mind and made him a pliant tool in 
assisting a young and good-for-nothing friend of his in com- 
mitting a crime for which he had to suffer for the rest of his 
life. To the knowledge of this tempter had come the follow- 
ing fact: an old lady had drawn her entire deposit from the 
local bank, intending to leave the next morning for New 
York. Both boys secured entrance into her home and while 
he kept watch below, his chum went upstairs. A shriek rang 
out through the open windows into the summer night. The 
watcher below ran to the street in terror and into the arms 
of a policeman. The old lady had been smothered with a 
pillow. My gentle visitor paused. "From eighteen to fifty 
I served on my life sentence thirty-two years, most of that 
time as accountant in the prison office with the special privi- 
leges of a 'trusty.' " 

At last he was pardoned and on account of his fine prison 
record and experience as a bookkeeper the warden secured 
a similar position for him with a large transportation com- 
pany in New York doing night duty. "Now will you take 
me knowing of my past?" he said. "Now, knowing it," I 
said, "I give you even a warmer welcome." 

He came to the school three or four times weekly for his 
violin, piano and theory lessons, and was very much liked; 
and while he possessed no real talent, his tremendous interest 


Human Document 

and application made him an acceptable student. His dream 
all those years behind the bars had come true. No one knew 
his story except myself. It was impressive his saying to me at 
the end of his tale, "Do not feel sorry for me, for if I have 
all through those years lost physical freedom, I am the gainer 
of its spiritual counterpart." 

The last time I saw him he was in the Junior Orchestra 
conducted by Mr. Stowell, seated next to a little girl with a 
pink bow in her hair, so deeply engrossed that for him the 
visible world had dissolved into unalloyed joy. The gates of 
another prison had opened for him. 

The professional mind would in all probability have re- 
fused this man of no talent musical education. And there 
were plenty then who thought an act like this wasted effort. 
Perhaps it produced no Heif etzes but is that the only end of 
teaching music? 

In April of that year we sailed with Leopold, then a child 
of three, and Nana his nurse, for Brussels where I was to 
study with Ysaye for six months. From this illuminating 
companionship I drew untold value, long afterwards even 
more than at the time itself. His art and his vision of it were 
too great for me to absorb at once. Most of it was left to be 
drawn upon like a deep and inexhaustible mine, still after 
all these years yielding riches. At Godinne on the Meuse I 
continued my lessons. With him now Clara played the 
Kreutzer and Cesar Franck sonatas, a never failing remem- 
brance of sheer, illuminating beauty for her. 




UPON our return to New 

York, Mrs. Mansfield suggested that we give a series of six 
sonata recitals for the benefit of the Settlement School. We 
played these in the spacious and very beautiful music room 
in the home of Mrs. Charles T. Barney at Park Avenue and 
Thirty-ninth Street. The series was very successful and the 
programs interesting, for they were chronologically ar- 
ranged from the early Italian masters down through Brahms 
and Cesar Franck. 

There followed now, out of the general interest in our 
playing, a demand for sonata recitals which under the man- 
agement of Mrs. Frances Seaver and later under Haensel and 
Jones, developed into concert tours which took us as far 
west as Kansas City, south as St. Louis, north as Bangor, 
and included public recitals of our own financial venturing 
in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. We were now play- 
ing over forty concerts a season. 

A year or two later we gave a series of Sunday night sonata 


Sonata Recitals David and Clara Mannes 

recitals at the Belasco Theatre. Besides possessing a reper- 
toire of something like sixty works, we played for the first 
time in public concerts in New York compositions in the 
classical form by Enesco, Lekeu, Henius, Carpenter and 

Sonatas now began to appear on the recital program of 
the violin virtuosi in America for the first time, and nearly 
all the literature we played, whether it was Bach, Beethoven, 
Mozart, Brahms, or the old Italian masters, was new to more 
than nine-tenths of our audiences. The fairly familiar sonatas 
were the Tartini Devil's Trill, one or two Handel sonatas, 
and, of Beethoven, only the Kreutzer sonata. We were the 
first to give entire sonata programs of Beethoven, and once 
in a while a whole program was devoted to the three Brahms 
sonatas. At a recital in Aeolian Hall we played the G major 
and A major sonatas of Brahms, with one of the clarinet 
sonatas, where the viola was substituted for the clarinet. 
Our tours lasted sometimes two or three weeks, and we in- 
dulged ourselves by traveling most comfortably either in a 
drawing-room or a compartment. 

It was not always possible for the management to secure 
consecutive dates on tour. Often we had to make such long 
unbroken hops as New York to St. Louis, arriving there at 
6: 30 P.M. and leaving directly after the concert. On one of 
these occasions the check we received bounced back a few 
days after its deposit at our bank, to our justifiable dismay. 
The Kneisel Quartet had fared in the same manner only 
a week before, and had written us a dire warning, but the 


Music Is My Faith 

letter came too late. This was the only experience of the 
kind, however, during the many years of our concertizing 
and is no reflection on St. Louis! 

These tours were a period of relaxation for us, for we 
were without worry about our boy, and later on his lit- 
tle sister, feeling entirely secure in the punctilious care and 
devotion given them by Tante and Nana. I have always 
loved riding in a train and looking out at a strange passing 
landscape, and Clara was then as she is now an inveterate 
traveler. We had all sorts of adventures on these tours: giant 
blizzards that held us snowbound, amazing human contacts 
in isolated western university towns, great hospitality from 
utter strangers, and the general excitement of pioneering. 
Everywhere we went I was interviewed by the newspapers 
in relation to the Music School Settlement, and once in a 
while I responded to an invitation to talk at some local meet- 
ing of a club, even at a Board of Trade in the Middle West. 
Through such experiences I lost my early fear of making 
public addresses. 

The summer of 1904 was spent in a rented camp about a 
mile from Basin Harbor on Lake Champlain, near Strong's 
boarding-house where, some twelve years before, I had 
stayed an entire summer. Then I was rather a sad and forlorn 
young man. Now, in looking back, it was this very period of 
a dozen years that had changed me from an immature and 
confused young violinist into a man and I hope a musician 
of responsibility. 

The grounds of this quite primitive cottage, dotted with 


Sonata Recitals David and Clara Mannes 

majestic trees, ran down to massive shelving rocks abutting 
on the waters of Lake Champlain, over whose changing sur- 
face one's gaze sped to the mellow-tinted outline of the dis- 
tant Adirondacks. 

Down there by the lake I see Leopold sitting with his 
grandmother, or with Tante, either fine gray head close to 
the auburn curls of their small idol, singing with him the 
songs and interval exercises out of a book, and beating time 
to preserve the rhythmic value of the notes. Little Leopold, 
aged four and a half, was having his daily sight-singing les- 
son. All of the previous winter he claimed the piano almost 
as his plaything, making experiments on his own account. 
And since he heard music as a natural part of his daily life 
and was taken to an occasional afternoon concert, he al- 
ready knew the instruments of the orchestra and had a keen 
interest in different instrumental combinations. Sometimes 
after the concert he was taken back to the conductor's room 
to see me. After one particular concert, conducted by Felix 
Weingartner, at which there had been an excitingly beauti- 
ful and majestic performance of Beethoven's Fifth Sym- 
phony, Leopold rushed into the room, went straight up to 
the celebrated leader and said, "Mr. Weingartner, that was 
the best playing of the Fifth Symphony I have ever heard." 
"You dear boy," exclaimed the conductor, taking him up in 
his arms. 

Among those who paid court to young Leopold was 
George Henschel, then in New York teaching singing at the 
Institute of Musical Art. This justly celebrated musician 


Music Is My Faith 

came every Sunday morning to take Leopold for a walk 
along Riverside Drive. He delighted to probe this young 
and avid mind for reactions, particularly musical; for he was 
interested in the manifestations of a preordained musical 
gift and had assured us of the boy's unusual talent. At all 
events, it was a touching sight to see these queerly matched 
two marching off for a weekly ramble in mutually pleasura- 
ble anticipation. 

With one European experience already behind him, and 
the many impressions coming into his few years of existence, 
this boy's sensitive spirit, instead of being complicated and 
taxed, seemed only to have become normalized, to have re- 
solved itself into unusual balance. His devoted mother was 
now bearing another child, and we were already planning 
for an eventful winter. 

Our next-door neighbors at the lake that summer were 
Dr. Nathan Oppenheim and his wife, whom Clara had 
known as a young girl. Dr. Oppenheim was a very distin- 
guished physician and to us a very stimulating friend. 
Towards the middle of the summer we were startled by the 
abrupt entrance of Mrs. Oppenheim's maid, telling us in 
great excitement that the doctor had hurt himself with a 
hatchet while splitting kindling wood, and asking would I 
come at once. When I went into our neighbor's sitting-room 
I saw him seated at the table, holding a bloody hand, his wife 
frightened, pale and almost fainting. She begged me to wash 
jny hands in a bowl of antiseptic solution, which, after scrub- 
bing my hands, I did. Approaching the doctor I saw needles, 


Sonata RecitalsDavid and Clara Mannes 

forceps and gut spread out on the table. I followed the doc-i 
tor's directions and took three stitches in the back of the 
hand above the index and second fingers. I, who could not 
bear the sight of blood, performed my first and only surgical 
operation, not without a dread foreboding as to the proba- 
bility of the permanent disability of the doctor's hand. A 
week later I was overjoyed to see my doctor-patient wiggle 
his fingers in pleasurable glee. I had by the greatest good 
luck done a good job. 

The next summer, 1905, saw us installed, with our family 
now including a beautiful and obstreperous daughter seven 
months old, in a cottage enlarged and remodeled for us, 
situated on an attractive tree-lined shore of three and a half 
acres, with a separate study for me under the trees two hun- 
dred feet distant. It was a snug and rather complete summer 
home for us, possessing a very neat cottage the walls of which 
were unsealed, the naked pine partitions stained an attrac- 
tive green, the living room dominated by a beautiful stone 
fireplace and a large Steinway grand piano. 

Our very attractive neighbor this time was an Episco- 
palian minister, with his family including his wife and four 
children under the age of eighteen. They were all fond of 
good music and it was only natural when Clara and I played 
that they sat outside, all of them, under adjacent trees, lis- 
tening. They were invited in and became the nucleus of a 
large gathering at regular recitals lasting an hour on Sunday 
mornings at eleven o'clock. 

By word of mouth it was widely circulated up and down 


Music Is My Faith 

the lake that people were welcome, and soon our dock was 
lined with motors and rowboats and canoes. On the field, in 
the rear, were wagons that had carried our farmer neighbors 
over many a mile. In many cases the farmers brought lunch 
with them, and asked permission to remain on the place after 
the recital to camp out for an hour or two. People came from 
as far as Burlington. 

These occasions were weekly milestones for us, to which 
we looked forward and which we enjoyed inasmuch as we 
brought for the first rime to many in this mixed gathering the 
works of Handel, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and 
Cesar Franck. The series of about eight programs was given 
for three consecutive summers, the term of our leasehold of 
this cottage near Basin Harbor. 

' Leopold turned pages for his mother and naturally ab- 
'sorbed the music at first hand in hearing and in sight. These 
occasions rest in our memory, perhaps not so much for the 
music itself as for the gathering of people devoid of social 
considerations who came over many a mile of land and water 
to bathe in the never ceasing stream of inspiration of these 
deathless composers. Tante was the lovely hostess, welcom- 
ing the people, mostly strangers, with that charming and 
warm hospitality that came so naturally to her, for she loved 
people, all kinds of people. And she in turn became to them 
one of the chief attractions of our household. 




AHERE was practically no 

change in my varied schedule of work with the exception 
of the Symphony Orchestra, where, as I said, I played fewer 
concerts, never omitting, however, those of the Young Peo- 
ple's Series or those of the Musical Art and the Oratorio So- 
cieties. I foresaw my giving up all orchestra work, much as I 
loved it. 

A few unusual episodes during the last years of my associa- 
tion with the orchestra included the appearances of Gustav 
Mahler as guest conductor with whom I had a very pleasant 
relationship. Playing under the leadership of such inspir- 
ing men as Weingartner and Mahler taught me more about 
conducting than all the books I could have read; and to 
these men I owe my conception of what a symphonic con- 
ductor's personal strength and singleness of purpose mean 
to each individual player in the orchestra. Until a conductor 
had this artistic hold over the men, his knowledge of music 
might count for nothing. Damrosch, Seidl, Weingartner, 
Muck, Mahler, and, of course, Nikisch, had the inherent 


Music Is My Faith 

quality that makes leaders of men, and I am quite certain 
that in any other vocation or profession they would not 
have been time-servers. It was more than interesting, it was 
assuredly revealing, to watch these men at rehearsals, for 
their methods of drilling the orchestra were as unlike each 
other's as were their features. It was at these times that I re- 
ceived the true measure of these men in action; it was then 
that their musical intentions were made clearer to us than at 
most of the concerts. 

Mr. Damrosch, who never failed in courage in bringing 
about an unprecedented entertainment in musical form, en- 
gaged the dancer, Isadora Duncan, for a number of appear- 
ances with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall; and in spite of 
gloomy forecasts, the association was a brilliant success, not 
alone in launching Miss Duncan's great personal popularity 
in this country, but in presenting a perfect musical setting 
through which her great interpretive art shone with alluring 

One night after dinner at Mr. Damrosch's house, she said 
she would dance if Mr. Damrosch would play for her. Every 
portable accessory of the large room was carried out, the 
guests sat on the floor, and the lights were turned lower. 
Then followed, for about fifteen minutes, one of the most 
extraordinary and beautiful impressions of artistic intention 
among my recollections. When she was pressed for a repeti- 
tion, she came to me, asking me to play something alone for 
her. My violin being in the house, I stood, at her direction, 
in the center of the room, playing a movement or two 


Gustav Mahler: Isadora Duncan 

from the Bach solo sonatas. At the end she asked me to re- 
peat this at the Metropolitan Opera House the following 
evening when she was to give her next recital. My declining 
this honor (I did not think that these rare moments could be 
recreated) prompted her to make the unusual offer of giving 
me half the receipts of the house. 

Many years later 1 'was in your room at the Music School 
'when a secretary said, "Miss Duncan to see you, Mr. Man- 
nes" "Can I stay, Father?" I begged, goggle-eyed 'with ex- 
citement. "Of course" 

A big 'woman came in 'with coarse red hair looped under 
a big, black dusty hat. Her voice was hoarse and deep. "Da- 
vid" she cried, going to you, "dear, wonderful David!" 
And she embraced you, and I was appalled not at the em- 
brace, butbeing too young to understand at the ruin of a 
vision both of us had once seen on the stage, in front of tall 
curtains, in a golden light. 



V-|UR tours were now devoted 

to programs made up of excerpts from Wagner's Parsifal, 
given with the assistance of about six or eight singers, with 
the orchestra on the stage and the soloists in evening dress. 
These concerts were financially successful, for the Ameri- 
can public as a whole had no opportunity of hearing Wag- 
ner's last great work. Church-going people crowded the 
auditorium and gave themselves to the religious import of 
this confession of faith of the great master. In the middle of 
the program I always played Wilhelmj's arrangement of the 
Good Friday Spell; and had I given a wonderful perform- 
ance of Beethoven's violin concerto, acclamations of ap- 
proval could not have been greater. And so for weeks and 
weeks I played this solo, until my very soul turned, for it 
was, I thought, a success unworthy of the artist which I 
hoped to become. I even resented being called the "Spell 
Binder" by members of the orchestra. 

My longing for home life was really the essential back- 
ground to everything I did. No public success which meant 


/ Resign from the Symphony 

even a temporary loss of these ties could have compensated 
me for such absences which would follow in the wake of 
distinction of a great soloist. The very elements I lacked, 
such as brilliancy of performance, and an egocentric type of 
mind, seemed to me now a blessing in disguise, leaving me 
free to build my own life in exact conformity to a philosophy 
evidently inherent in me. 

In 1912 I reigned frnip the New York Symphony Or- 
chestra as a necessary though regrettable step. I had realized 
for several years that in giving my interest in so many dif- 
ferent directions, none of them could receive adequate at- 
tention and service. I had completed my seventeen years in 
the orchestra, ten of which I had served as concertmaster, a 
period embracing a lifetime of interest in a music world of 
its own to which I bore an intimate and an absorbing rela- 
tion. There was very little symphonic or choral music 
I had not played. In retrospect, mine was the privilege 
,of knowing and hearing the greatest artists living in those 
seventeen years. It was by no means all easy sailing, but ob- 
stacles were somehow surmounted through the tact, wisdom 
and resourcefulness of our directing conductor. And it is to 
his steadfast and inventive qualities that the orchestra lived 
through a series of crises that would have undone a less 
valiant spirit. I was sorry, very sorry, to leave my comrades, 
many of them dear friends. 

/ dorft remember the actual time 'when you told us you 
'were giving up your orchestra job in the Symphony. But I 


Music Is My Faith 

do know that it must have depressed me greatly. For it was 
very glamourous seeing you sitting at the first stand at the 
concerts. You 'were so slim and I liked the way one long leg 
was stretched in front of you, and the other bent back, with 
the foot resting against a chair-spoke. And the full dress 
looked very elegant, with the tails falling down behind the 

We would always sit in the same box Mother, Tante, 
Leopold and 1. And when you were tuning up, or between 
compositions, or afterwards, bowing, you would look up at 
us and smile. 

And when you played the Good Friday Music from 
Parsifal Mother and Tante would always weep a little. I was 
awed myself, not only by the music but by the unearthly 
purity of your tone. It was your "piece." 

Too little is known of the life of an orchestra musician, 
undistinguished (most of them) , his individual and important 
efforts never noticed in print, his rare reward a smile from 
the conductor as high approval of his playing in some small 
solo passage. Never publicized in his prompt attendance at 
rehearsals and concerts when in agonized worry over some 
critical trouble in his crowded home, or his playing in actual 
pain and seeking no excuse for a pardonably indifferent per- 
formance. Among the valued lessons of my life were these 
examples of stoicism under the grueling, harsh inhumanity 
of a soulless conductor, or a succession of conductors who 
lacked the imagination to realize that in forcing the orchestra 


1 Resign from the Symphony 

to achieve their own personal success, they lost the only me- 
diumthat of kindness and consideration which is vitally 
necessary to a perfect ensemble; and which creates a self- 
imposed discipline through united enthusiasm and effort. 
An orchestra engagement of thirty or forty weeks at a 
salary just big enough to meet the current budget of family 
expenses left nothing over for the man's livelihood for the 
remaining twenty or more weeks of the year. Summer en- 
gagements, mostly of a depressing and inartistic character, 
are resorted to, and in order to secure these, hundreds of 
competent players made daily morning visits to the Musical 
Protective Union to pick up sporadic engagements from 
the few musical activities that remain in the life of music in 
a great city during the summertime. The few fortunate ones 
securing radio engagements are indeed lucky, being finan- 
cially secure if spiritually depressed by the absence of hu- 
man reaction that magic tension between performer and 
listener which no mechanical reproduction can possibly 




the many friends I 
had talked to about John Douglas, the colored friend and 
teacher of my boyhood, were George Foster Peabody and 
Natalie Curtis. They had long been deeply interested in 
Hampton Institute, the great industrial school for colored 
people near Old Point Comfort, Virginia. They begged 
Clara and me to come and play on Commencement Day at 
Hampton. We left with a large party which included a num- 
ber of well-known people, among them Dr. Felix Adler. 
Apparently Mr. Peabody had related to Adler the story of 
Douglas and had asked for fuller details. 

In the middle of the program Clara and I played facing 
the rising tiers of nine hundred Negro and one hundred 
Indian students. Back of us was an audience of several thou- 
sand. The tremendous applause which continued for some 
time was almost unnerving, for it had the spasmodic violence 
of claps of thunder. After many an acknowledging bow, 
this unusual response to our playing only subsided when 


Hampton Institute: My Colored Friends 

Dr. Felix Adler came upon the platform holding up his hand 
for silence. 

"My friends," he said, "I want to tell you an interesting 
story which I know you will appreciate and take to heart. 
Many years ago in a sordid street in New York, a col- 
ored man listened to the sound of a violin coming through 
an open window." He was telling them of my colored 
friend, how he taught me for the sheer love of imparting 
knowledge to a poor, unguided boy who dreamed and 
loved music. He went on. "This is a unique story as you 
must all agree, for a Negro gave an unasked-for cultural 
lift to a puzzled white boy. Unfortunately, the colored bene- 
factor passed away not so many years afterward, but" he 
paused "the white boy of that generation has just played 
to you." 

The silence following Dr. Adler's descent from the platt- 
form was more emotionally shattering than anything I had 
hitherto experienced; I was moved to my very soul. I re- 
member being dazed and silent and can recollect only that 
one of the many students surrounding me asked me to let 
him see my violin which then passed among the others; and 
so careful of the instrument were they that it came back to 
me unscathed and still in perfect tune. 

By this time, however, I felt more than dazed; I was actu- 
ally ill from emotional exhaustion. And Clara had me taken 
to my room and the doctor summoned. After examination, 
he said that I was to keep to my bed for at least two days. 
Dear Dr. Frissel, president of the university, came to me 


Music Is My Faith 

several times. His visits gave me joy: his great benignity of 
mind and soul were very comforting. On one of the evenings 
of my short convalescence the choir came and most beau- 
tifully sang outside my windows many of their spirituals. 

Among my friends who knew of my affection and in- 
terest for the colored race some tried to discourage any 
intention of mine to help the cause of education among the 
Negroes. They would say that the colored man was incapa- 
ble of realizing advantages because of physical and intel- 
lectual barriers that were the biological inheritance of the 
race. I remembered Douglas, however, and felt that I had 
known intimately at least one representative of the race who 
had achieved cultural and intellectual individuality, and if 
so, others might follow, and even surpass, his unusually high 
accomplishment. I think artists like Roland Hayes, Paul 
Robeson, Marian Anderson, Harry Burleigh, and James 
Weldon Johnson, the poet, have more than proved this con- 
tention. They are interpreters of the first magnitude, re- 
gardless of race and color. 




JJEFORE a group of interested 

friends, and those particularly zealous for the cultural ad- 
vancement of the colored race, Natalie Curtis, George Fos- 
ter Peabody, Dr. Felix Adler, Elbridge Adams, and Mrs. 
Percival Knauth, I laid the cherished plan of founding the 
Music Settlement for Colored People in memory of my old 
friend and teacher, John Douglas. Ways and means were 
discussed, a board of trustees chosen, and soon afterward 
added to by an equal number of prominent colored people. 
It was my task, and not an easy one, to engage the colored 
faculty. A house in Harlem was leased, and pianos installed. 

The faculty was soon at work under the direction of 
David Martin, a former letter carrier, always a lover of music 
and for a number of years an enthusiastic violin student. 
I was able to arrange for further and more intensive study 
for him at the Institute of Musical Art. 

There were in Harlem a number of excellent musicians, 
men and women, whom our young director knew; and 
since the faculty was to comprise people of his race, he was 


Music Is My Faith 

given authority to make the necessary arrangements with 
them. After some shifting of time I was able to spend three 
hours weekly at the little house on West One Hundred and 
Twenty-first Street where the director's family also had 
their living quarters. 

In changing the days of my visits as often as possible I 
could supervise the work, and play an hour of quartet mu- 
sic with three men of the faculty. Mr. Weir, violinist, and 
Mr. Jeter, the 'cellist, both very talented and musically adept 
players, were enthusiastic comrades who worked with amaz- 
ing fervor at those rehearsals. It was for them the first op- 
portunity of its kind. Since these informal meetings were 
open to our friends in the neighborhood, we played in a 
tightly packed but quiet room. Among our constant visitors 
was the minister of a neighboring colored church who after 
the close of a Haydn adagio stood up and said, "I or no other 
minister of God's church could preach as good a sermon as 
that which we have just listened to." 

I was always comforted by the thought that the Negro's 
idea of music in his native sense was intensely religious, and 
that the majority of them, especially the women, deplored 
the existence and popularity of jazz music. The high artistic 
value of the spiritual attests the fact of their fine sense of 
musical proportion and a naive devotional quality. 

On one of the rare occasions when I was playing with the 
trio of the faculty and we were alone, rehearsing an allegro 
movement of a Haydn quartet, I called a halt and said to 
the viola player, "Mr. Washington, why do you always 


Music in Harlem 

drag?" In an inimitable southern dialect and with great unc- 
tion he answered: "Why Mr. Mannes, you seem to forget 
one important characteristic in viola playing." "And, pray, 
what is that?" "Why, the viola always drags, doesn't it?" 

After a year of promising growth our school unfortu- 
nately was in danger of dissolution through growing dissen- 
sions between our director, his faculty, and the board of 
trustees a battle which assumed political proportions. After 
attempts at a possible agreement proved futile, it was decided 
to accept Mr. Martin's tender of resignation, whereupon he 
started a school on his own responsibility and we were left 
to consider the alternative of leaving the field entirely to 
Mr. Martin or resuming our work in other quarters. The 
latter course was adopted among us unanimously. 

A double building was bought under a heavy mortgage 
on West One Hundred and Thirty-first Street, and Rosa- 
mond Johnson placed in charge as director, with a new fac- 
ulty. A long life for our venture seemed promised. The 
faculty was decidedly better and our quarters spacious and 
attractive. The parents of our pupils showed a fine pride in 
paying the small fee we demanded for lessons, and rarely 
was there any hint of asking for scholarships. The modest 
and well-bred demeanor of our pupils was proverbial. 
Clothes were well brushed and clean linen the rule. Soft 
voices and the complete lack of rowdyism prevailed. I some- 
times went to tea in colored homes and came away with a 
feeling of great inner satisfaction at the charm, ease, and 
grace of manner these people possessed. 


Music Is My Faith 

After an informal concert of the pupils, a teacher of many 
instruments, mainly strings, began, meditatively, "Dr. 
Mannes " I broke in, "Please do not call me Doctor. I have 
no such title of distinction, no degree." "Well," he said, 
"we've got to call you something to show you our respect." 
He seemed puzzled when I said that true respect needed no 
such label, that trust and confidence were born of another 
dimension. "That's just what I wanted to talk to you about," 
he said. "Don't you think that music without soul is worth- 
less?" When I asked him what he meant by "soul," he re- 
mained silent, then, looking at me, said, very softly, "I think 
that the soul is like a kite which most people fly only after 
they are dead." 




A.MONG the remarkably indi- 
vidual characters that stand outlined in my memories of the 
experience in Harlem is James Reese Europe, conductor of 
the Clef Club, a large orchestra of the best colored musicians 
in New York, among whom were several gifted composers. 
Europe and I became friends. It was his suggestion that the 
Clef Club play for the benefit of the Music School. 

In following out this suggestion Elbridge Adams of our 
committee engaged Carnegie Hall with the privilege of us- 
ing it for several all-day rehearsals, the necessity for which 
Europe made clear to us. The orchestra being composed of 
professional jazz-players, barbers, waiters, red-caps, bell- 
hops and such, it was possible for them to attend rehearsals 
only at times when they were free. The orchestra, then, 
could only be rehearsed in sections, men dropping in at odd 
moments, in a seemingly lackadaisical manner, to receive in- 
dividual instruction and then to be rehearsed in groups. 
Even in the final rehearsal, the orchestra was not complete. 
I wondered if this scattered and disorderly rehearsal at- 
tendance could produce anything but chaos. 


Music Is My Faith 

Mr. Europe called for fourteen upright pianos which El- 
bridge Adams, a high official of the American Piano Com- 
pany, provided with alacrity. These pianos were placed back 
to back and were played by fourteen of the best jazz players 
in town. Two hours before the end of the final rehearsal, 
late in the afternoon, a few of us came to listen to those 
sixty-five men playing bandolas, guitars, a few violins, 'celli, 
a few basses, flutes, saxophones and one bassoon (the player 
having learnt to master its participation in the program in 
a week's time). The large battery of drums and traps was 
very imposing and seductively rhythmic. In addition to their 
orchestral numbers, they sang while playing, and the wonder 
of it was that some of the fine bass voices were among the 
performers of instruments scored in the treble clef, and 
vice versa. 

Very few people realize how difficult it is, for instance, 
to play the violin and to sing simultaneously the harmoni- 
cally correct bass passages. The great surprise to the listener, 
however, was the beautiful, soft sound of this strange con- 
glomeration of unassorted instruments. Its only prototype in 
tone is the Russian balalaika orchestra. 

And big Jim Europe was an amazingly inspiring conduc- 
tor. Of a statuesquely powerful build, he moved with simple 
and modest grace, always dominating this strange assem- 
blage before him with quiet control. The hall was packed 
from the floor to the roof, thousands being turned away for 
lack of even standing room. The receipts of this concert 
netted close to five thousand dollars, a great help to the 


Big Jim Europe 

school. Besides which, a wedge in opening the public halls 
and theatres to colored performers had been made. 

Europe and I talked of working towards a plan of build- 
ing a large structure in Harlem, containing besides a concert 
hall and theatre a library devoted to all printed matter con- 
cerning the colored race. It was also to be a focal point and 
a sort of northern clearing house for Hampton, Fisk, Tuske- 
gee and other schools and movements devoted to the Negro. 
In short, a national home for his best interests. 

In order to foster the pride of these million people, the 
plan made it absolutely necessary that they should finance 
and build to the exclusion of white assistance. Europe said 
it could be done through the colored man's talents, and that 
he would do all he could to bring about the building of such 
a noble monument. Had he lived I do not doubt that in 
Harlem, now, such a dream would become an imposing and 
a beautiful reality. 

Shortly afterwards the school was given over to the col- 
ored trustees- with Rosamond Johnson continuing as director, 
and I omitted my regular visits. In the first place it was a 
constant irritation to me that lack of spare time forced me to 
devote the minimum personal attention to work as important 
as this. In the second place, the colored people were desirous 
of assuming complete control. Six months after our depar- 
ture, the school closed its doors, much to my disappointment, 
not to speak of those of my friends who had given so much 
time and disinterested effort to the upbuilding of a home of 
musical culture. 


Music Is My Faith 

In Harlem today there is further need of such a place. The 
founding of our school came into life at least twenty years 
too soon. James Reese Europe during the war became Gen- 
eral Pershing's famous bandmaster. After the Armistice, on 
tour with his band, he met his death in Boston in his dressing- 
room after the concert. The band's drummer had stabbed 
him to the heart. 




XHROUGH Thomas Mott Os- 

borne, the remarkably liberal and human-hearted warden at 
Sing Sing and an old friend of my wife, I made arrangements 
to bring the Symphony Club to the prison. Eighteen hun- 
dred prisoners were seated in the hall without the depress- 
ing influence of the guards. This was one of many customs 
inaugurated during Mr. Osborne's tenure of office. The 
prisoners gave us rapt attention and always a thunderous 

My sympathies became involved and active in securing 
with others a pardon from Governor Whitman for an at- 
tractive-looking Italian, leader of the prison band. When 
he left Sicily for America at the age of eighteen, his father 
bidding him good-by at Palermo said to him, "Guiseppe, 
look out for the police in New York, be a good boy and do 
not get into their clutches." Arriving in New York entirely 
ignorant of the English language, he naturally associated 
with his countrymen. Once, when he was in a large group of 
them, a violent altercation arose. A piercing shriek split the 
air, and the group quickly dispersed, running wildly off in 


Music Is My Faith 

all directions. The boy of eighteen, transfixed with terror, 
was left standing over a lifeless body. 

It was easy to arrest him, he offered no resistance, could 
say nothing; he seemed to be in a trance. His trial followed 
immediately, and through an interpreter he could only pro- 
test his innocence. But circumstantial evidence was complete. 
He was condemned (his yotith saved him from the electric 
chair) to serve a life sentence, which he began on the day 
following his trial. 

Having played the trumpet in the village band in Sicily, 
his one talent became useful in the prison band, and in- 
directly, eleven years afterwards, was the means of securing 
his unconditional release. His musical experience and re- 
sourceful vivacity soon brought him forward as a leader 
among his mates, and when I met him at the age of twenty- 
nine he had developed this band into a very creditable or- 

With the willingness of Warden Osborne, it was possible 
to bring a local teacher into the prison to help the young man 
to the musical knowledge he so strongly wished. Then I 
began to beg the music publishers for an extended library 
and for additional instruments, all of which were most gen- 
erously given. The last information I had concerning Gui- 
seppe was that, surrounded by a complete family circle of 
his own, he was the owner of a respectable and fairly lucra- 
tive business somewhere in the Middle West, happy and 
contented. I hope he still plays upon his trumpet, and looks 
upon it as the precious symbol of his deliverance. 


Music at Sing Sing 

In the prison yard and in those fearsome cells I came upon 
a condition of mental anguish that baffles the telling. Slowly, 
inch by inch, the Christlike understanding of a fearless soul 
brought about better conditions and a more humane treat- 
ment of these human derelicts, not alone in Sing Sing but 
in England, and all over the world. The memory of Thomas 
Mott Osborne is secure. His work, though he is gone, is only 

Of the many experiences that came to me through my as- 
sociation with the penitentiary is the following human docu- 
ment, which I am impelled to tell not because it is more re- 
markable than others, but because it is connected, curiously 
enough, with my early boyhood. After playing a complete 
program for the assembled eighteen hundred prisoners later 
on, I left the stage and passed down the aisle to the exit. 
Halfway to the door, I heard a voice, "David, for God's 
sake, come here." An outstretched hand caught mine, and I 
was pulled into a seat made vacant next to a gray-haired in- 

"Look at me, don't you know me, don't you remember 
Ben . . . ? My father kept a store on Seventh Avenue, near 
Twenty-fourth Street, and I used to play baseball with your 
brothers. I saw very little of you. You were skinny and 
looked sick and you played the fiddle. You somehow never 
mixed up with us." 

I now looked closely at him. He was heavy-set and quite 


Music Is My Faith 

gray, a "lifer." He had been at Sing Sing since his youth. 
"You broke me all up," he said. "Listening to you play, re- 
membering the old days, your father and mother, mine . . . 
You know, it's funny, but why wasn't I up on the stage, like 
you, tonight, and you here in my place. I guess it's just like 
this: you kept good company, and I the worst; but I didn't 
know it." He smiled wryly. 

"But how did it actually happen," I asked, "your being 
sent here?" 

"The promise of easy money. It's most always that, easy 
money . . . My God . . . You'll come again, David, won't 
you?" I promised. 

Bad company: and here was an institution among many 
built by the crazy philosophy of a Christendom to exagger- 
ate this accident of environment by packing thousands of 
human beings in more wholesale conditions of "bad com- 

This is where humanity should start to clean house, and 
cast to the rubbish heap its mental concept of prison, sub- 
stituting schools instead; schools of different categories ac- 
cording to the mental fitness of their pupils; schools to 
awaken laudable ambition for a new life instead of our dun- 
geons of despair. 

How long will it take to make this civilized world realize 
its losing fight against criminality, to make over its police and 
judiciary systems, to lead toward rehabilitation instead of 


MUM School Settlement Street Concert, About June, 



vJoiNG straight to my work in 

East Third Street made me realize with great joy that the 
Settlement School, while representing an infinitesimal cog 
of the great wheel of life, offered a wonderful element of 
protection for the young and unguided life entrusted to our 

We were at this time much occupied in preparing for a 
public concert to be given in Carnegie Hall. Both the Senior 
and the Junior Orchestras were to be combined in a pro- 
gram for string orchestra by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, 
Handel, and in the accompaniment of Percy Grainger's play- 
ing of his own piano music. Mr. Grainger had most gener- 
ously offered his services as assisting artist. 

It was an afternoon concert and the hall was crowded 
with people of all ages and condition. The great and sincere 
applause was very exhilarating to our young players and 
stimulated them to the best performance in my experience 
with them. 


Music Is My Faith 

Our next venture was to be a "street concert," planned to 
take place on the eve of Decoration Day. Thousands of 
lamps were to be stretched across the street, which was to 
be closed to traffic by the Police Department, and the neigh- 
bors were asked to take part by decorating their windows 
with colored lamps. On the appointed evening, orchestra and 
chorus assembled in the building, and as the stands and chairs 
were being arranged on the asphalt a heavy downpour of 
rain came and continued so long that the concert was post- 
poned to the next evening, when again, with everything in 
readiness, the same thing occurred. 

Again a postponement. The following night, in beautiful 
weather, the street a blaze of light, we played and our chorus 
sang to the motionless attention of crowded sidewalks, kept 
in orderly alignment by an interested and kindly platoon of 
police. The windows of adjacent houses were crowded with 
beaming faces, and over the cornices of the roofs hung the 
heads of hundreds of men and boys, their faces aglow from 
the hundreds of incandescent bulbs beneath them. One had 
to think of them as living, highly interesting sculptured 
gargoyles. As a closing number we played and our chorus 
sang the old Jewish hymn, Hatikvo, and to our great joy the 
people on the street, the old people in the windows, those 
on the roofs, joined in the mighty chorus. It was an unfor- 
gettable incident. 

Our neighbors now understood us, and were indeed our 
friends, showing it by helping to keep the street clean and 
free from the disfiguring elements of rubbish, ashes, etc. One 


The Settlement Thrives: Theodore Roosevelt 

of our youths whom I had advised years before to go to 
Cooper Institute to learn some mechanical craft (he was a 
musical enthusiast) now came to me, saying that he had a 
good position in the paving department of the city's public 
works as a result of his training at the institute, and that our 
street was slated for a new paving. "What type of pavement 
do you want?" he asked. East Third Street was laid with 
smooth asphalt one week later. And this was the boy whom I 
had discouraged as a professional musician, to his great dis- 
appointment at the time. He is at present a very successful 
building contractor, but has not forgotten his violin. 

In the winter of 191 2-1 3 there came in the strangest waj^ 
the fulfillment of a desire sustained for over twenty-five 
years: to meet and know Theodore Roosevelt. As far back 
in the past as when he was Police Commissioner he seemed 
to me the ideal public servant, courageous and true in the 
performance of duty as he saw it. 

I had, as a young man, enthusiastic moments that gave 
me, too, the courage of which he seemed to be the embodi- 
ment; and which made me feel that I must go down to Mul- 
berry Street to tell him how much I admired him. But since 
fear controlled most of my impulses, the years slipped by 
without my even catching so much as a glimpse of him, 
years that carried him away from the police force to the As- 
sistant Secretaryship of the Navy, to the Spanish-American 
War in Cuba as a Colonel of the Rough Riders, to the Vice- 


Music Is My Faith 

Presidency of the United States and finally to be its Chief 

Through all this time I was thrilled with the vital doings 
and tireless activities of this truly great man. When we 
finally met in 1912 he had lost his re-election, and had offi- 
cially retired to private life, acting as assistant editor to 
Dr. Lyman Abbott on the Outlook. 

On a Saturday afternoon, over the telephone came a mes- 
sage to me through his secretary, "Could Colonel Roosevelt 
attend the next day's, Sunday morning's, rehearsal at the 
Music School Settlement?" 

Elation and joy swept over me, and the next morning 
I told the assembled orchestra of students that a great 
friend of theirs was coming to listen, that at a signal from 
the front door, which was to announce to me his arri- 
val, they were to start playing the chorale, Bin feste Burg 
ist unser Gott. They were cautioned not to look around 
while playing and to play as they had never played before. 
The signal came while we were rehearsing something that 
kept us intent on our work. But the music of the chorale 
was quickly put in place by the hand of the players, and 
this ageless chant of devotion sounded out of those cheap 
fiddles with irresistible appeal. 

In the middle of the floor I felt a presence, and as soon 
as we finished I called, "Children, now look and see who is 
here." Shouts and cheers and the rapping of the fiddles came 
from the players who now stood up, as did the applauding 
audience which always filled the hall. I stepped down to 


The Settlement Thrives: Theodore Roosevelt 

meet our great visitor, who held out his hand and took mine 
in that firm grip of his, while he said, "Tell me, are these 
youngsters to become professional musicians?" 

"When they do, Colonel," I answered, "I shall consider 
it a mark of failure in my purpose, for we give ourselves to 
them through the sheer love of the best that there is in music 
without professional consideration, and we can only hope 
they will receive this gift in that spirit." 

"Then," said he, "I am with you." 

With him came his friend, Dr. John Finley, at that time 
President of the College of the City of New York, who after 
the rehearsal asked me to bring the orchestra to the college. 
A date was immediately made, and some weeks later, Colonel 
and Mrs. Roosevelt sat in the front row of the tightly packed 
auditorium. The opening number was, by the Colonel's spe- 
cial request, the chorale which he had heard in East Third 
Street, but this time blending with the great organ. At his 
side sat Clara and our two children. Shortly afterward he 
held you Marya, then about seven, on his lap. Little imp that 
you were, you told me afterwards that during that time you 
had fingered the ex-President's watch chain and then slyly 
felt around his chest for the bullet you knew was imbedded 
there! Apparently you had remembered our grave concern 
over the attempted assassination of the man whose name was 
a household word among us. 




1 BEGAN to realize, rather re- 
luctantly, that the work of the school would overshadow a 
purpose which I held almost as dearly as life itself, my artistic 
progress. It was to that purpose I was committed, realizing 
at the same time that the school, in justice to its probable 
development, would need all of my rime and strength. Loath 
to leave a glorious adventure just when it seemed so fruitful, 
I nevertheless felt that the rime would soon come when I 
must tear myself away from these hundreds of young souls 
whom I held in such real affection. This decision I post- 
poned, a dread finality to be temporized with. 

In April, 1913, cutting our season short in New York, 
we went to England, taking our children with us; and while 
we remained in London, Tante, Leopold and Ma Mie (as 
she called herself) were sent off to Seaford on the south 
coast. Through great good luck Clara and I were able to 
rent a studio and adjoining living rooms on Portchester Road 
the attractive home of two London musicians then absent 


Sonatas in London: I Resign from the Settlement 

from town. We lived there in quiet and peace during our 
preparation for the three recitals planned in Bechstein Hall, 
running down to Seaford on weekends. It was a queer ex- 
perience while riding atop the buses to see occasionally a 
string of sandwich men carrying little billboards advertising 
David and Clara Mannes which, I had to admit, no one 
noticed but us! We felt young enough to be childishly 
chagrined. The first concert (the recitals were spaced a week 
apart) was poorly attended, but after very enthusiastic re- 
views the audiences grew, and at the last concert we played 
to a fine house. Our reception was so encouraging that we 
thought seriously of a Continental tour for the following 
spring of 1914. 

The next winter back in New York my work was with 
the music school, tours with Clara over an ever widening 
territory, private lessons at home, and, on several occasions, 
public speeches on the work in East Third Street. The nerv- 
ous stuttering boy of fourteen had become a public speaker, 
an activity which he did not enjoy and which he honestly 
tried to avoid. 

The summers of 1914 and 1915 were spent at Chatham 
on Cape Cod. There in June of our first summer in a delight- 
ful cottage on the pond, came the news of the scarcely be- 
lievable first act of the appalling world tragedy. The cor- 
porate body of humanity had again harbored in its breast 
an increasing lust for power, the viper of insensate material 
greed, allowing it to poison and defile its latent godlike 
spirit. The body might recover, but the passion for faith and 


Music Is My Faith 

hope and freedom was stifled brutally by cynicism and un- 
belief and the exploitation of helpless human beings. 

In 1916, after fifteen years, I finally resigned as director 
of the Music School Settlement. And the following summer 
we spent in one of the two cottages of a large estate at Hunt- 
ington, Long Island. My old friend William Faversham had 
rented one, and asked us to take the other; and so we lived 
in delightful and stimulating companionship. I had, how- 
ever, the sad consciousness of exile from a long-loved land, 
a place where I had lived and been of use. That land was 
East Third Street with its thousands of children and their 
many devoted teachers. It was hard, very hard, to have left 
this other house of mine, but in the preceding two years I 
had been only too aware of the fact that progress had slowed 
down and finally come to a halt; and where progress was 
impossible it seemed unmoral for me to stay. I was repeating 
myself and therefore must seek new fields. This time the 
adventure was to be another music school, in which control 
should rest completely in Clara and myself. 




WHAT was the real incen- 
tive to create another musical institute? It surely did not 
spring from the desire to enter into competition with other 
schools, the best of them so heavily endowed that they could 
carry on even at a loss on student fees; schools where the 
pupils could study at far less expense than with private 
teachers, and with the means at hand to attract many talented 
pupils through scholarships. What had we to offer to offset 
these material advantages? 

Several of these endowed institutions were doing most 
excellent work, not alone in the quality of teaching but in 
raising the standards of general musicianship which the 
private music teacher was unable, in most instances, to do. 
For every student, regardless of the degree of his or her 
talent, needed first of all a sense of musical craftsmanship 
to enable him to pursue his professional calling. And he 
needed the confidence born of a highly disciplined training 
in musical fundamentals. 

It seems contradictory, considering the fact that Europe 


Music Is My Faith 

possesses many fine institutions of honorable standing in 
which long, intensive periods of training are required of 
its students, that very few of the world's greatest artists 
attended or completed the full courses at these music schools. 
But it is mainly to their great credit that they raised the 
standard of musical instruction. We owe to them today the 
high quality of our magnificent orchestras and the general 
musical culture of fine ensemble players. 

All of this appreciation was deep in our minds long before 
we started our school. It was not to be just another good 
school, nor just a better school but a very different kind of 
school. It was to become a veritable center of musical ac- 
tivity; embracing under the same roof not only the intense 
development of the potential professional, but the efforts 
of those who wanted merely to enrich themselves through a 
better understanding or playing of music without the re- 
sponsibilities of a career. A school directed solely towards 
education for a career runs the danger of becoming institu- 
tional, while a purely cultural school for the amateur runs 
the opposite risk of becoming lax in standards, bereft of the 
stimulus that only serious artistic qualities can give. We felt 
that in offering a very fine faculty of teachers, with a more 
liberal and human attitude to the individual needs of each 
student regardless of talent, we were presenting more spe- 
cialized treatment for each student according to his musical 
ability and general temperament. 

Being without funds, and with the public mind engrossed 
in the European struggle, it seemed the worst possible time 


We Start Our Own School 

to set about laying a foundation for an institution that had 
neither building nor equipment. However, even then, with 
everything against us, we still had courage and the faith of 
generous believers in our work; and finally an underwriting 
for rent and equipment against deficits was given us, making 
it possible for us to rent a magnificent private home on East 
Seventieth Street. All these preparations were concluded 
during the winter of 1915-16. In October of the latter year 
the school opened its doors, with a faculty carefully chosen 
in all departments and a fairly complete installation, which 
was comparatively economical since the house was beauti- 
fully furnished and all of it was for our use according to the 
terms of the lease. 




,/TLT THIS point I feel an urge 

to pause for a moment and relieve myself of a few thoughts 
which have occupied my mind for many years, and which 
still form an integral part of my personal philosophy. 

As I said before, I have not a trained mind. My gropings 
for the truth are undisciplined, unaided by any of the estab- 
lished processes of logic. And much of my mental rambling 
ends in blind alleysor thin air! But still there is a residue 
which I would like to set down for what it is worth: certain 
conclusions about life and living, about body and soul, 
which I think contain the germs of truth, and which have 
helped me and sometimes others to see a little more clearly 
through the surrounding confusion of existence. Anyway 
here they are. 

I believe in repose; repose of body and repose of mind. 
To achieve the first, one should train oneself early in life to 
relax, as a dog does, or a cat; to lie down every once in a 
while, if only for five minutes. As a matter of fact, I am a 
firm believer (and exponent) of the old Arab proverb: "It 


Rambling Thoughts 

is better to stand still than to walk, better to sit down than 
to stand, better to lie down than sit." I have also noticed 
that a great many of the men and women who manage to stay 
young throughout their lives are adept at this relaxation. 
It is tense people who age quickly; tense people who sicken 

The same thing holds for the mind. After periods of 
concentration it should be given a complete rest "put out 
of focus" for a while. This does two things: prevents irrele- 
vant outside impressions from encroaching upon it; and 
allows certain thoughts and feelings to enter which cannot 
take hold when the mind is a ferment of activity. Without a 
certain amount of quiet contemplation, no one can arrive- 
mentally or spiritually at anything worth while. One must 
stop looking and hearing outwards every so often and turn 
the gaze and the ear inward. Stupid, empty, vacuous people 
make such a constant noise and clatter inside their head that 
they are incapable of hearing the true inward voice not to 
speak of the truth that lies outside of them and around them. 

While I love to walk, I don't think exercise is essential to 
fitness. I have been wiry and tough all my life, with an ab- 
solute minimum of exercise. Instead, I feel myself fit all the 
time. I have worked on myself a great deal, making myself 
conscious of all the ordinary actions of living bending, 
getting up from chairs, picking things up, walking upstairs, 
running for buses and making them all count as direct ex- 

2 37 

Music Is My Faith 

pressions of the body. I try to perform these motions with 
the absolute minimum of effort and maximum of efficiency. 
I find that by controlling my breathing calmly I need not 
puff going upstairs; that by walking lightly, with a constant 
forward-going movement, I need not tire easily. Instead of 
pushing myself up from a chair by my arms one of the first 
signs of age and physical laziness I rise by the momentum 
of shifting balance. It is simple enough to do, it's merely 
something you have to think about now and then. 

The main thing is not to relapse into heaviness or tense- 
ness. There must be an inner lift to everything you do. This 
has little to do with weight: I know many fat people who 
handle themselves lightly. But the sagging shoulders, the 
sagging head, the heavy walk all these are admissions of an 
inward heaviness that is in turn the admission of spiritual 

As you can see by the foregoing, I believe the link between 
body and mind far closer than is generally considered. So 
many illnesses, I firmly believe, are the direct result of mental 
depression or spiritual perplexity. If you any of you try 
to trace back the cause of a certain attack of indigestion or 
a certain cold or a certain headache, nine chances out of ten 
you can link it up not only with bad food or bad liquor or a 
late night, but with some emotional upset, some mental 
fatigue, some spiritual dissatisfaction. All these states weaken 
the body's resistance and make it a prey to any germ and 


Rambling Thoughts 

any disturbance. I have found this to be invariably true in 
my own caseand I am surely not unique. 

This is also a good moment, I feel, to pause and give an 
idea of what you seem like, purely externally, to the outside 
world. The essence of yourself is indeed in your story; but 
not apparent are all those little quirks and shadings of mind 
and body that, together with this essence, spell David Mannes 
to others. So, with your permission, I append the following 
thumbnail sketches. 

I see you lying down not from fatigue but from prefer- 
ence. You usually have a book in your hand. After lunch 
you are more than likely to fall asleep over it. I once looked 
at the detective story you were reading and saw that you 
had fallen asleep with your hand on a page whose final words 
were "Holding the knife high over her head he." 

You can, in fact, relax more completely than anyone 1 
know. This makes you extremely restful to be with; except 
at times when immediate action is required. 

You seem, also, beautifully oblivious of the demands of 
time. As a matter of fact, I think this very obliviousness of 
days, hours, weeks arbitrary measurements, after all is one 
reason why you remain young. 1 know that's why you dis- 
like birthdays so: because they represent an artificial unit of 
measurement which is not your own, and has little bearing 
on your current mood or condition. 

I see you very clearly at the dining table. You are in- 

Music Is My Faith 

capable of sitting squarely in your chair and facing the table. 
Your legs are crossed over to one side and your body is tan- 
gential to the table "on the bias" as Mother says. 

The rest of the family talks so much and so loudly that 
you relapse into silence most of the while, emerging now and 
then to remark wistfully, "/ never get a chance to say a word 
in this family"; or to make some profound observation which 
has no bearing on the current conversation. We will all be 
talking, for instance, about Fred Astaire's dancing, and you 
will suddenly say "/ think fat people have fat minds" Hav- 
ing said this you submerge again. 

Examples of your absent-mindedness would fill a book. 
They range pom your well-known habit of giving the taxi- 
driver the address you are leaving instead of the address you 
are going to, to helping yourself so freely at the dinner table 
(you pile on food in a daze) that nothing is left on the dish 
for anxious guests. At these times Mother wakes agonized 
facial expressions at you 'which you never see. 
/ But the peak of your absent-mindedness, as I remember it, 
'was 'when you had put on full dress for some reception and 
we found you, in the nick of time, waiting for the elevator 
with your old striped wrapper draped negligently over your 
full dress pants and your top hat on your head. 


At the David Mamies Free Concerts, Metropolitan 



IN ONE of the first recitals 

given in this country by Pablo Casals, which took place at 
Mendelssohn Hall, Clara played with him the A major sonata 
of Beethoven, and from that occasion began our friendship 
with Casals. He came often to the house, bringing his 'cello, 
playing much chamber music with us. Those evenings will 
always remain unforgettable for us, as well as for our two 

Each return to America brought Casals to our house, and 
the utterance of the 'cello under his fingers still sounds in 
our ears, a standard that floats immeasurably high above our 
heads but not above our hearts and understanding. 

During the first year of the school's existence Casals pro- 
posed a program to be given there of the two Brahms sex- 
tettes for strings, offering to take part himself. It was easy 
to get excellent players for such a performance with Pablo 
Casals as a colleague. Leopold, then sixteen, sat apart lis- 
tening to all the rehearsals. There were at least six, which 
took place in the evenings and Sundays. Two weeks after 


Music Is My Faith 

the concert we heard Leopold playing at the piano many 
parts of both sextettes with perfect harmonic accuracy 
and fidelity of phrasing. He had never seen the score; he 
simply remembered. Later, not long after, he enlarged on 
these excerpts until it seemed he had committed both sex- 
tettes to memory. We knew then, against our fears, that 
Leopold's musical enthusiasm had not waned: on the con- 
trary, it had retired within and grown stronger. 

The season 1916-17 proved beyond a doubt that our 
school was needed. Its enrollment of students, mostly chil- 
dren from private schools, was better than we had antici- 
pated, and made it possible for us to call on only one-half 
of the underwriting fund allotted for that year. We were 
encouraged to enlarge our plans for the following season to 
attract also the more adult and serious student in the study 
of composition. 

We offered the position as head of the theory department 
to Ernest Bloch. He had arrived from Europe a season before 
to conduct the performances of a well-known classical 
dancer whose American tour was short-lived and unsuccess- 
ful. Bloch returned to Geneva, where our offer reached him. 
He accepted and reached New York before the opening of 
the school's second year. His lectures were enthusiastically 
attended, so much so that within a few months a concert 
was planned and sponsored by a group of his new friends 
at Carnegie Hall, creating great interest and enthusiasm. A 


Pablo Casals: Ernest Bloch 

man of brilliant and dynamic qualities, he was, we soon 
found, born to create and not to observe a teacher's schedule 
and a routine scholastic timetable. His appeal must naturally 
be made to great metropolitan audiences, not constructively 
in the small classroom nor to the isolated pupil over a long 
period. This does not mean that as a teacher he was not 
illuminating and fervid over a brief period, nor that his 
personality did not leave an indelible impression on those 
fortunate enough to come in contact with him. His was a 
distinct service to the school which we cannot forget. 



MANY years I had 
dreamed of a perfect place to make music inorchestral 
music. The atmosphere of the concert hall had always seemed 
to lack something. It made people constrained or, what was 
worse, self-conscious. Many of them came not to hear music 
so much as to be seen hearing music. And there was a for- 
mality, a rigidity about the whole thing that, to my mind, 
ill-suited the spirit of the music played. 

I dreamed of a place where people could come and listen 
to fine music without this constraint: where they could 
arrive when they chose and leave when they chose, and 
where, the tickets costing nothing, there would be no eco- 
nomic or social barrier to their coming. 

One day I was asked to conduct an orchestra at a recep- 
tion for the Italian Ambassador, given at the Metropolitan 
Museum of Art. The orchestra played up on the north bal- 
cony of the huge entrance hall. 

This was the place, I thought to myself, profoundly 


The Museum Concerts Twenty Years of Conducting 

excited. Here were the space, the acoustics, the freedom 
and, best of all, the most beautiful objects in the world 
around one. 

And one morning came the first step to the crystallization 
of this vision. The night before I had conducted an orches- 
tra at a museum reception given by its president, Mr. Mor- 
gan, and the board of trustees, to the members of the Society 
of the Metropolitan Museum and their friends. In a telephone 
communication from Mr. Edward Robinson, the director, 
I was told that Mr. Edward Harkness, a trustee, had just 
been in to see him and offered to defray the expenses of the 
orchestra for six concerts during the winter season to be 
given in the evening free admission to all who cared to 
come. One condition was that I was to conduct. To say that 
I was excited and thrilled is putting my reaction to that 
message but mildly. Another dream had mysteriously come 

I went about in a high state of elation not because of 
another personal acquisition among other wonderful things 
that had come to pass in my life, but with a feeling of humble 
acceptance of a call to duty that had all the elements of 

A few days later a letter from Mr. Robinson came saying 
that at a meeting of the board of trustees it was decided that 
since the museum bore the immense responsibility to pos- 
terity for the safeguarding of priceless treasures, it could 
not take the responsibility of subjecting the exhibits to the 
danger of harm or destruction in the jostling of masses of 

Music Is My Faith 

people congregated in large numbers in only one part of the 
building. The generous offer of Mr. Harkness was therefore 
most regretfully declined. 

It is unnecessary to describe my disappointment. After a 
few days of a calmer acceptance of what I thought a tragedy, 
I approached Mr. de Forest, then vice-president of the mu- 
seum, asking him, since he had been in favor of such concerts, 
to sponsor two under the following conditions: no public 
advertisement, no police, and no extra guards, the concerts 
without aid of soloists to be given on Saturday nights and 
the programs handed to the audience upon entering without 
payment. In fact, everything was to be free. The United 
States had already sent her soldiers abroad in fighting units 
mainly through the port of New York and a great many sol- 
diers and sailors found themselves on the streets of the city, 
and it was for them primarily that the concerts were planned. 

This time the trustees approved, the dates were set for the 
concerts and the orchestra engaged. By word of mouth and 
small notices displayed in the galleries, a very small part of 
the public was informed. The first night there were only 78 1 
present; the following week the attendance doubled. Noth- 
ing was harmed, the audience behaved in an orderly manner, 
interested obviously and solely in good music heard in an 
environment of great art. On February 19, 1918, Mr. Rocke- 
feller, Jr. in a letter said that he and Mrs. Rockefeller had at- 
tended one of the promenade concerts at the museum and 
that they were "pleased beyond expression with what we 
saw and heard. The music was delightful and was heard to 


The Museum Concerts Twenty Years of Conducting 

the best advantage. The character of the audience was most 
interesting, and their appreciation of the concert and the sur- 
roundings was marked. The informal, friendly spirit which 
prevailed, hundreds of people sitting on the floor, many of 
them knitting, all quiet and properly respectful, . . . min- 
gling together in a friendly, natural way, made the occasion 
a unique and significant one. I think you have rendered a 
great service to the city in having gotten the Museum Trus- 
tees to try out this experiment, and earnestly hope these con- 
certs may become a permanent institution of the city." 

After the concert on the following Saturday I was talking 
to an old lady who spoke to me with enthusiasm of her pleas- 
ure, telling me that for years, since her arrival in this country, 
she had heard no good music owing to the lack of means to 
pay for seats even in the gallery at Carnegie Hall, and saying 
that in Europe in her earlier days she had heard and loved 
symphonic music. Since then she had missed the perform- 
ances of the works of the great masters. "Oh," she said, "this 
evening is more beautiful than I even dreamt of. The statues 
and pictures, and the music all together, and and"; then I 
became conscious of someone standing close by as if to speak 
to me. Turning I saw Mr. Rockefeller, Jr., accompanied by 
his daughter, both carrying folded camp chairs. He said, 
"Don't let me interrupt. I can wait." Bidding goodnight to 
my old lady friend, I turned to Mr. Rockefeller, who said, 
"How much do the concerts cost?" I answered, giving him 
the exact sum of the expense of each concert including one 
rehearsal. "I will send," he said, "a check to you to pay for a 


Music Is My Faith 

series of four concerts, such as these two you have given, on 
one condition: that the donor shall remain anonymous." 

I told Mr. Robinson, the director of the museum, of this 
stroke of good fortune. "Who is your wonderful friend?" 
he asked. "I am sorry," I answered, "but I have promised not 
to tell." 

The next morning Mr. Robinson telephoned and begged 
me to try to secure the permission to say who the generous 
giver was. After a pleading interview with Mr. Rockefeller 
in which I repeated the words of Mr. Robinson that it would 
encourage other generous-minded people to support addi- 
tional concerts through the use of Mr. Rockefeller's name, 
coupled with the knowledge of his act of altruism, I won his 
consent. The trustees at a meeting accepted this offer, 
and Mr. Rockefeller's concerts were set to take place in 
January on four successive Saturday nights at eight o'clock. 

On the first of these, there had been placed in various 
parts of the great hall about 1,500 seats. At six o'clock these 
were occupied. The remainder of the audience found no 
other vantage point for listening than to stand up during the 
entire two hours of the program. 

Now the press carried small reading notices of the concert 
with the result that more listeners were attracted to each 
concert. The museum authorities provided rush seats for 
those who preferred sitting on the floors to standing. The 
turnstile indications marked off an attendance of nearly five 
thousand, the rapidly increasing audience representing seem- 
ingly all the nations of the earth, comporting itself with quiet 


The Museum ConcertsTwenty Years of Conducting 

demeanor, and listening with keen attention to the music. 
Nevertheless, this rapid increase in numbers created some 
apprehension on the part of at least one of the officers of the 
museum who felt that it might be necessary to close the doors 
when five thousand people had passed through the gates. 

Another series was planned for March, and voluntary 
donations for this purpose were easily found among the 
museum trustees. It was thought best to omit February as a 
continuation of the January series in order to disperse this 
huge and fast-growing audience, and to begin over again a 
month later. Three years later, I received the following: 

26 Broadway 

New York 

February 18, 1921 
Dear Mr. Mannes: 

I greatly appreciate your letter of February yth with 
reference to the January series of orchestral concerts at 
the Metropolitan Museum. You greatly overestimate the 
part which I played in developing this unique and interest- 
ing musical center. My impression is that it was you who 
first suggested trying these concerts for the soldiers dur- 
ing the war. I attended one of them when the general 
public was first admitted, and was so impressed with the 
character of the audience and its diversity both in nation- 
ality and social status that I felt it a privilege to co-operate 
with those who were back of the movement in providing 
for more concerts. Each series has only strengthened my 
belief in the value of the enterprise, and I have been happy 
to have a part in it. The whole thing is so in line with 
your own spirit and point of view that I cannot but attrib- 
ute the success of the undertaking in no small degree to 


Music Is My Faith 

your leadership and 'what you put into the program of 
yourself and your own ideals. 
Again my thanks for your letter. 
Very cordially, 

(Signed) John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 
Mr. David Mcmnes 
157 East 74th Street 
New York, N.Y. 

As I write, twenty consecutive years of these eight con- 
certs have been given, and nothing has happened to mar the 
serene progress of these gatherings in search of beauty. 
Violence of any kind has not occurred, none of the exhibits 
has been injured, and gentle behavior of both audience and 
attendants has been the general spirit of these evenings. 

Not alone, on these occasions, is the museum open for a 
music-loving public, but the gates remain open for three- 
quarters of an hour after the concerts in order that the ex- 
hibits may be viewed by the great numbers of people whose 
imagination has been made to function with added apprecia- 
tion through music. The audiences now number anywhere 
from eight to over fifteen thousand. 

There are about 2,200 seats and people begin to occupy 
them from four o'clock on. The stairway to the upper gal- 
leries, with just a narrow lane left for passage, is crowded 
with listeners who cannot see the musicians. In fact, from 
these concerts is eliminated the quality of visual pleasure 
which usually accompanies listening to an orchestra, for the 
orchestra seated on the stone parapet of the north gallery is 
invisible to all, and only part of the conductor is seen. (This 


The Museum Concerts Twenty Years of Conducting 

fact alone is enough to keep the society "music-lovers" away. 
So much of their "love" resides in the figure or gesticulations 
of their favorite conductor! ) The programs have changed 
from the character of promenade concerts to music of the 
highest quality, and every program contains a standard sym- 

Now museums throughout the country have their regular 
concerts, but as all of them lack the great space of the central 
hall, they are limited to programs enlisting small groups of 
performers, such as quartets and organ recitals. London's 
great museum has, I believe, contented itself with the giving 
of such chamber music concerts. 

In the development of these concerts I remember with 
great gratitude those who have helped to make such a history 
possible. Mr. Edward Robinson, director of the museum, 
who from the beginning was more than sympathetic to the 
plan; Mr. Rockefeller, not alone for his financial support but 
for his words of encouragement and understanding vision as 
to the need of providing the general public with an opportu- 
nity of this kind; Clarence H. Mackay, who as the result of 
a visit to one of the concerts some years ago, bore the expense 
of the March series and the increasing expense with Mr. 
Rockefeller of a larger orchestra and extra rehearsals. In 
closing this chapter one of the most absorbing adventures of 
my life I think it will be interesting to note that in twenty 
years of one hundred and sixty concerts, the people who 
have come through storm and stress on many a winter's Sat- 
urday night to the Metropolitan Museum number over a 


Music Is My Faith 

million. No soloists, no sensational appeals have been the 
lure to attract this vast army of peace to listen. The sensation 
was neither soloist, orchestra nor conductor. The sensation 
of this whole experience has been the touching response of 
the multitude. 

Touching is the word. Those thousands are animated by 
one thing only love of music. There are no social considera- 
tions, no class distinctions, no money barriers. There is no 
room for pride, for exhibitionism, for factionism. I doubt if 
ever the democratic spirit 'were visible in a purer state. 

These people are touching because they come there tired, 
being poor and having worked all day in sweatshop or fac- 
tory or store or subway. And they stand for two hours carry- 
ing their coats, their white faces held to one side, their feet 
apart, their eyes vague. Tired women slump on the floor, 
leaning their heads against the granite claws of some gigantic 
sphinx. Very often children fall asleep on their laps, thin 
legs sprawling. Lovers find a niche between glass cases of 
Korean pottery, head against shoulder, hand in hand, listen- 

Even the sculpture seems to be listening. Greek heads 
come alive, leaning towards the source of sound, their beau- 
tiful sullen mouths half -open. Torsos move forwards, war- 
riors march silently, the dancers in friezes step in timeless 

And the facesthe faces of these listening thousands 
would be the inexhaustible delight of anthropologist as well 


The Museum Concerts Twenty Years of Conducting 

as poet. One has the high cheek-bones of the Mongol, an- 
other the Slavic bullet head, another the almond eyes of Asia 
Minor. Predominating, indeed, are the Russian and Polish 
Jews, but there is no race on earth that is not represented at 
the musetim; and no age from six to ninety. 




IHE second year of the 

school passed. Our student body increased in numbers so 
that at the end of that school year it was possible to ask only 
half of the smaller amount of underwriting allotted in the 
plan of diminishing financial backing for each of the three 
years. At the end of the third year this favorable condition 
was repeated. The school needed only approximately one- 
half of the backing secured to safeguard the greatest artistic 
and financial responsibility of our lives. 

We were mightily discouraged, however, when it ap- 
peared that we must lose the possibility of leasing the beau- 
tiful building for another three years, or even for another 
season, unless we would buy outright land, building and its 
furnishings. What to do? We were quite frantic. We poor 
musicians without possessions of any kind saw the possibility 
of losing our school unless we could raise $175,000! 

Then, providentially, there came help from an unexpected 
quarter. A near neighbor of ours, James Gamble Rogers, the 
distinguished architect whose daughter was a student of the 


We House Our School 

school, and to whom, in passing, I related our critical situa- 
tion, told us to try to sell bonds among our friends for the 
purpose of buying the building. This seemed impossible, 
more than impossible, for the first Armistice Day had only 
passed, and what chance would an investment in favor of a 
music school have when money was needed everywhere to 
repair the aftermath of four years of destruction? Neverthe- 
less, we searched in all directions for a house adaptable to the 
school's requirements, and while there were many empty 
ones we were disheartened to find none that answered our 

Again our architect friend, Mr. Rogers, came to the rescue 
with another plan, briefly this: "I know of three old- 
fashioned, brownstone high-stoop houses on Seventy-fourth 
Street which you could buy for $65,000 cash. An added 
$35,000 or so will serve to remodel these houses and to build 
a hall in the rear over the backyards, fifty feet long, with a 
stage and the space for an adequate pipe-organ. What sort 
of a building do you want? " We told him the absolutely nec- 
essary requirements. 

"And now the facade." The answer to that was already 
in our minds, for Clara and I had agreed upon, roughly 
speaking, a combination of the old Colony Club and an an- 
cient Boston private dwelling; something typically Ameri- 
can and simple without the slightest trace in outline of the 
average educational type of architecturethose heavy, for- 
mal buildings usually associated with educational purposes. 

A week or two later Mr. Rogers sent us a sketch of the 


Music Is My Faith 

building as it is today, and sometime later the complete plans 
of interior arrangement. 

The necessary capital was finally raised by loyal friends, 
and the buildings bought outright for cash. Off we went for 
a much-needed summer vacation, happy in the assurance 
that our new school would open its doors in the first week 
of October. 

We got back to New York in early September, expecting 
to find a building needing a few finishing touches. Instead we 
found a gutted and wrecked pile of masonry, half -demolished 
stoops, and a mutilated facade. Mr. Rogers had spared us the 
long tale of strikes and union demands that had caused this. 

With the school's scheduled opening some five weeks off, 
with no office, no telephone, the period for student registra- 
tion imminent, our despair was truly an exact counterpart 
of the crazy desolation and chaos of rubble and mortar and 
cement over which I stumbled. What to do? We must have 
an office and a telephone. A neighbor next door provided the 
former, and Mr. Vail and Mr. Kingsbury, president and vice- 
president of the New York Telephone Company and our 
good friends saw to it personally that the telephone was 
placed in that makeshift basement office. * 

Our two secretaries for now our devoted Marian Claire 
Smith had an able assistant in Alfrida Kramer were unfail- 
ing in all they did to help. Our staff of teachers were asked 
to be ready to teach our pupils in their homes; and where 
that was not feasible, rooms in the neighborhood were rented 


The David Mamies Music School 

We House Our School 

by the week for that purpose. We saw that at the earliest we 
could not use the new building for two months. 

The final hurdle, formidable and menacing, was an over- 
charge of construction of $17,000. A few months later a 
check for $20,000 was given us by the same friend who had 
subscribed to half of the amount of certificates, and in her 
selfless bounty preferred to remain anonymous. She saved 
many a day of despair and hopelessness for us. 

With a part of her donation a small library of music was 
assembled and placed in a room devoted to the purpose on 
the second floor. Another friend gave a beautiful Skinner 
organ in memory of her mother. We now went full steam 
ahead with a larger student body taking lessons in scattered 
areas all over the city, controlled from the impromptu office 
functioning feverishly in that basement room next door. The 
day came finally, in November, when the installation of 
pianos began, and the furnishings necessary for comfort and 
attractiveness were put in place. And the David Mannes 
Music School opened its doors. 

A dedicatory program was held at the school on February 
7, 1920, at which Lyman Abbott and Walter Damrosch 
made addresses. Yvette Guilbert, who had held courses in the 
school, sang old French songs, and Clara and I opened the 
program playing an adagio by Beethoven. 






JLHE first season was a great 

success with every reason for encouragement. The school 
had not alone carried itself financially but gave us the cour- 
age to assume for the following season even greater risks. 
Clara and I went on with our recital tours to provide income 
for the family living, for our combined salaries were kept at 
a modest figure to insure the financial security of the school 
and the dedication of a possible surplus of its earnings to its 
artistic development. 

Since an influx of older and professionally-minded stu- 
dents came to us, we saw the necessity of engaging a dis- 
tinguished successor to Ernest Bloch. At the enthusiastic 
recommendation of Ugo Ara, viola player of the Flonzaley 
Quartet, Rosario Scalero of Rome was invited to come over 
to teach the art of strict counterpoint. He remained with us 
for six years, building up a fine class of serious students of 
young men and a few young women. In this class Leopold 


Rosario Scalero and Dr. Hans Weisse 

was a hard-working student, spending the summer months 
with his teacher in the mountains of the valley of Aosta in 
northern Italy. He among other students through Scalero's 
demanding guidance acquired a technique through strict 
counterpoint that will surely hold together any edifice built 
on the indestructible foundation of Palestrina, the master. 

After such years of invaluable service, Scalero had ac- 
cepted the offer of the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia 
at four times the salary which we were able to pay. We were 
happy that we were the instrument, through such a teacher, 
of bringing to our country an exponent of the idea that to go 
forward one had to go back to principles antedating the 
universal Bach. His only possible successor to continue the 
class of composition would have been one of his students, 
and was, in our minds and that of his fellow-students, Leo- 
pold. What deterred us from choosing him at once were the 
possible objections to his age he was now twenty-seven 
and the fact that he was our son. He felt these objections 
perhaps more than we, but since no alternative appeared in 
sight it was finally decided that he should step into his teach- 
er's shoes, provided that those of his students who wished to 
continue under Scalero should go to Philadelphia for that 
purpose. Later, when Leopold left to go on with his color 
photography at Eastman's in Rochester, we had again to seek 
a successor for the teaching of composition at our school, 
and we were most fortunate in securing the accomplished 
Dr. Hans Weisse of Vienna. Dr. Weisse has within a few 
years made a distinguished place for himself among the se- 


Music Is My Faith 

nous students of composition as well as among outstanding 
musicians of the country. Surely if the school had no other 
claims to favor, it has had three really important influences 
in its faculty history Bloch, Scalero and Weisse. 




ALFRED CORTOT, the French 

pianist, had appeared in New York; and so enthusiastic were 
we about his beautiful playing that we engaged him to give 
a recital at the school for students and friends, admission 
through invitation. Following the indelible impression he 
made as a great artist, we arranged for the following season 
that Cortot would hold classes composed of the advanced 
players, students of the school, and listeners from the general 
public. This was followed, at M. Cortot's suggestion, by the 
engagement of his assistant to form a class of possible candi- 
dates for scholarships, whom M. Cortot on occasional visits 
would be able to hear and advise. These scholarships were 
to be gained through competitive examination and decisions 
made by a board of judges of which the school furnished 
two, Clara and myself. The successful competitors were to 
be given the opportunity, during the summer months, to 
work in Paris with the assistant, Mile. Bert, to have personal 
lessons with M. Cortot, and living expenses paid. 


Music Is My Faith 

The first summer six were chosen. The cost of these schol- 
arships was borne by a friend of M. Cortot. While the result 
of this connection was worth while, we soon saw that the 
feasibility of permanence was highly questionable from sev- 
eral points of view, the chief of which we thought most 
serious to the life of the piano department of the school: only 
pupils of Mile. Bert could compete for these scholarships. 
This was unfair to the other teachers, a number of whom 
were as effective in their work as Mile. Bert, and who found 
their best players leaving them to work for the Paris scholar- 
ships which were obtainable only through having worked 
with M. Cortot's assistant. For this reason and others quite as 
important this connection after two winters in New York 
and two summers in Paris was abandoned. 

We were the first among the thoroughly organized music 
schools of the country to introduce the study of solfege, 
under Mile. Anne Marie SofFray an obviously much- 
needed study for the serious music student. And under the 
influence of her supervision, much of the French dryness of 
method was removed. 

Among the distinguished artists playing at the school were 
Artur Schnabel, Gieseking, Mme. Landowska (specializing 
in recitals on the harpsichord), Jacques Thibaud, and the 
Societe des Instruments Anciens. During Schnabel's first 
visit to New York he came to dine with us at our family 
table. Also present was Pablo Casals, who as usual on his 


Artists and the School: Cortot: Schnabel 

visits to us brought his 'cello, hoping to make some music. 
Casals and Schnabel, while they knew much of each other, 
had never met. Over the coffee, Casals said, "Why not the 
Brahms quartets?" "No viola player present." "Can't you 
get one>" "I'll try," said I, and I got up, and telephoned 
Louis Svecenski of the lately disbanded Kneisel Quartet. He 
arrived within the half -hour. Then followed a magnificent 
performance of both quartets, after which Casals went over 
and embraced Schnabel most warmly, kissing him on both 
checks. Clara, Tante and the children had listened com- 
pletely entranced and felt that they had lived through a mem- 
orable experience. 

I have forgotten among our wonderful evenings of music 
at home those spent three or four years previously with 
Willem Willcke rehearsing trios in preparation for programs 
to be given in Montclair under the auspices of a group of 
people devoted to chamber music, called the Mannes Musical 
Society. This course of concerts was devoted primarily to 
recitals given in private homes in Montclair by my quartet. 
When the quartet went out of existence the programs were 
made up of sonatas and trios. 

Not only did our association with Willeke bring us the 
very welcome opportunity of playing trio literature, but it 
brought us the warmest possible friendship with himself and 
his charming first wife, the daughter of Franz Kneisel a 
friendship interrupted only by her tragic and untimely death. 




1 HE School had grown, from 

small beginnings, to an enrollment of approximately four 
hundred students with a faculty of forty-eight teachers. 

An ominous sign was the lengthening of the hours of at- 
tendance at private day schools. Up to now they had dis- 
missed their pupils for the day between the hours of one and 
three, allowing the students plenty of spare time for the 
development of their young private lives (for even children 
should be permitted that privilege). But the private school 
sessions were now to end between four and five. Gone was 
the opportunity for unrestricted indulgence in furthering 
the special aptitude of the young mind to study drawing, 
music and allied interests outside the field of regular educa- 
tional supervision. It was an advantageous plan from the 
point of view of a mother who wished for her own freedom 
from care for the entire length of daylight hours. But for 
others it meant lost opportunity to give the child a develop- 
ment not standardized by mass application and the routine 
of group instruction. The public school was assuredly better, 


We Face Competition 

for being released from school at three o'clock there was 
rime and space in the world for the roaming spirit of the 
young to go into the green pastures of discoveries. 

Through the universal use of the phonograph the great 
majority of children became apt and precocious listeners. 
What little urge there was to learn to make music for them- 
selves was easily discouraged by the daily association with 
an inexhaustible supply of musical entertainment that re- 
quired no preparation or work and which flowed freely by 
placing a record on the ingenious machine. 

With a few turns at the crank, eating, school work, read- 
ing, bathing and dressing could have "incidental music." 
This thoroughly eliminated the element of thought, not to 
mention the aristocratic sense of discrimination. 

For the growing mind it was as enervating for the young as 
the continual use of the automobile was deadening to phys- 
ical initiative. For older people, those house-ridden through 
loss of health, for those in enforced exile from the city and 
its advantages it was indeed a priceless boon; as it is in the 
means of recording for future generations the vocal as well as 
instrumental sound of the great masters that have passed be- 
yond living memories. 

As a source of spiritual enervation radio, too, has been 
guilty, in its earlier stages especially. Humanity's curiosity 
soon becomes diverted by a new and marvelous toy, and not 
fully realizing its important gift, turns it into a means of 
vacuous entertainment, brings it only too often down to the 
level of sordid exploitation exploitation of talent as well as 


Music Is My Faith 

of the public. There is everything to be said for the discrim- 
inating use of such a miraculous power, for bringing us 
words from the inaccessible great words that deeply con- 
cern us all and music from invisible genius, for saving hu- 
man life, for diverting the shut-in. For such things we cannot 
be grateful enough. Never in humanity's history has the 
horn of plenty been poured into its lap just for the taking, 
never has such unlimited power of peace and happiness been 
at hand. But, so often, with what result? The frustration 
through misuse of a material power that might have had its 
great spiritual counterpart. 




IHE attention and time de- 
manded from both of us made it necessary to cut down many 
of our public performances; and as the years progressed, 
they were entirely given up, to the real disappointment, we 
were told, of our friends. We appeared, however, in rare 
intervals at recitals in the school auditorium for the benefit 
of a teacher in distress or to help raise funds for the scholar- 
ship fund. The main interests of our work lay in the school, 
in my direction of the Metropolitan Museum concerts, and 
in a sympathetic devotion to the college for colored people, 
Fisk University of Nashville, of which I had been elected 

Clara was to find the fulfillment of her musical life, of her 
great talents and capacities of mind and heart, in directing 
the growing school. Without her this important crux of our 
lives would have been impossible. It needed her loyal ad- 
herence to the highest standards of the art and spirit of 
music, and her clear judgment in the consideration of neces- 
sary details, to give unified expression to our combined 


Music Is My Faith 

vision. Alone neither of us could accomplish our destined 
work. What I lack in clarity and courage and decisiveness 
she provides. And I, perhaps, contribute a certain philosophy 
and a certain phantasy which sometimes appears to be 
irrational if not downright mad without which no vision 
can be sustained. 

If you were to ask me what things life has so far taught 
me I would say, among others, these: 

I believe in the desperate need of a star, no matter how 
dim, to fasten one's searching and often despairing eyes upon. 
The choice of occupation is a secondary matter. What 
counts, fundamentally, is the constant search for the poten- 
tial divinity in mankind; not in the herd, but in the single hu- 

I believe that the instinct of the heart should precede the 
judgment of the mind. The latter should serve the former 
and draw its power from it. 

I believe that in seemingly insuperable obstacles lie the 
hidden doors to unexpected opportunity. 

I believe that any calling is merely an instrument towards 
serving others; for in doing so one serves oneself. 

I have never considered the practice of music as a means 
towards the self-expression of the individual performer. 
There is today a fetish of self-expression. Why not call it 
simply "ego"? Anything an artist does is of necessity bound 
to express himself; that is not an end in itself. The end is 
to express the highest creative spirit, using oneself merely 
as the medium of transmission. I have always considered 



music as an exercise in devotion, or as a sacred region pene- 
trable only by love and humility. 

\bove all at least to me music is the only perfect uni- 
versal language. This is a platitude only because it happens, 
like other platitudes, to be based on incontrovertible truth. 
The only times when I have witnessed a state approaching 
the brotherhood of man have been moments of music, when 
hundreds of hearts beat to the same rhythm and lifted to the 
same phrase, and when all hate, all envy, all greed were 
washed away by the nobility of sound. Words are so often 
the agents of destruction; music good music can only 
build. And to learn the language of music or at least to re- 
spond to it one needs only an ear and a heart. It is only the 
deaf or the spiritually atrophied who do not somehow feel 
themselves exalted and purified in the presence of great 

There are other ways beside music of trying to bind man- 
kind in a common fight against the overwhelming forces of 
materialism and greed, of intolerance and rapacity, but they 
all have this in common with music: that they are based on 
creation and not on destruction. That is why I mistrust such 
drastic means of changing the world and the spirit of man as 
revolution. Any gain through violence is bound to prove 
transitory. For revolution is admitted to be, in the main, 
based on initial destruction: on a clearing of the ground, a 
razing of all things that were built through the generations. 
And the loss of this precious human residue is seldom com- 
pensated by the new structure that replaces it. 


Music Is My Faith 

The more I know of people the less fit I feel to judge 
them. And the more I know of myself the better I under- 
stand the doubts and fears that encompass them. It is only 
natural to dislike certain traits and qualities in people, but 
one should think twice before condemning them. It is usually 
people without imagination for the sufferings of others who 
sit in judgment upon them; people who have never known 
the cleansing agony of doubt. That doesn't mean that one 
should never be sure of oneself; rather that one should never 
be satisfied with oneself. When that happens, the spirit closes 
up and becomes sterile. There is no end to the development 
of the soul and to the wonders of living. 

As to the future I suppose to many "future" is a strange 
word for a man over seventy to use I face it with all the 
excitement and hope and ambition of a young man, but with 
much more faith and much more strength than the young 
David Mannes possessed. I feel that I think more clearly, act 
more directly, conduct with surer artistry, and even play the 
violin far better than I ever did before. And I know that I 
can still be of use. Armed with this knowledge I look ahead 


'Books That J 

The Norton imprint on a 
book means that in the 
publisher's estimation it 
is a book not for a single 
season but for the years.